OAKLAND -- The Los Angeles Clippers' unified pregame protest statement against team owner Donald Sterling came off poignantly and powerfully on Sunday at Oracle Arena. But after the opening tip, not much else did.

Unsure of his players' mental readiness before Game 4 and befuddled as to which ones would be prepared and which wouldn't, Clippers coach Doc Rivers saw the worst-case scenario unfold -- his team's mindset seemed disjointed and mostly elsewhere.

That didn't seem to be the case before the 118-97 thumping, when the L.A. players staged a strong symbolic gesture of unity.

After emerging from their locker room, they took off their warm-up jerseys featuring the Clippers logo and dropped them in the center-court circle, then went through pregame drills wearing plain red T-shirts worn inside out. Once the game started, the Clippers also sported black arm or wrist bands as well as black socks.

But the Clippers' show of collective purpose ended there. The Warriors delivered a 39-point first quarter belt in the mouth, and despite a few second-half runs, L.A. never got off the deck. Rivers wasn't completely sure the distractions of Sterling's alleged racial comments undermined his team's performance, but knew they didn't help.

"Listen, it could have," he said. "I'm not going to deny we had other stuff. I just believe when the game starts, the game starts and nobody cares anymore. Golden State certainly didn't care. It's like when a player plays with an injury. They don't care they're injured, they're going to come out and try to attack you."

"There was a lot going on today, and unfortunately, besides all the peripheral stuff, we played a team that played a great basketball game," said guard J.J. Redick. "It was by far their best game of the series on both sides of the ball."

Rivers said the pregame demonstration was a players-only call, and while he was aware what was going to happen, "I wasn't thrilled about it, to be honest. But if that's what they want to do, that's what they want to do."

"It was just talked about as a team," said Clippers point guard Chris Paul. "At the end of the day, it had nothing to do with the game."

Rivers wasn't sure, insisting that he has to do a lot better job getting his team ready to play from here on in amid the firestorm surrounding Sterling.

"I know I can get to them, I know they want to do right," the coach said. "And like I told them, the game's on me. My fault. It's my job getting these guys ready to play basketball, and I didn't do my job. And if it's because of the other thing, it's still my fault. It really is."

The one thing the Clippers have going for them is that they still have home-court advantage even though the series is now tied 2-2. But going back to an uncertain environment at Los Angeles' Staples Center as a result of the backlash toward Sterling, the team doesn't quite know what to expect.

"I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about what it's going to be like," said Paul. "Our fans have been amazing all season and obviously I hope that it will be the same. But you just never know."

Rivers expressed the same sentiment, noting, "We're going home now. Usually that would mean a safe haven. And I don't even know if that's true, to be honest."

Redick said that whatever type of reception the Clippers get when they return to Staples, they have to be better able to meet what the revitalized Warriors throw at them.

"We can't lose sight of how difficult it is to win," he said. "It's difficult to win in the regular season in this league, and there are a lot of factors working against you every night besides your opponent. And in the playoffs, it's even harder. We're playing a great team, and we all have to be sharp."

Not everybody was. Perhaps the most dramatic drop-off of a Clippers player was center DeAndre Jordan, who was one of the first team members to respond publicly to Sterling's remarks. Following up his superb 14-point, 22-rebound performance in L.A.'s Game 3 victory, Jordan wound up scoreless with just six rebounds in Game 4.

Did the events of the past 48 hours impact Jordan's readiness? Jordan did not comment, and his teammates were unsure.

"I really can't speak to that," said Blake Griffin. "I don't know. I couldn't tell you. Everybody has games that aren't as good as others. I think honestly we all had one of those games tonight."