OAKLAND -- Warriors coach Mark Jackson said if he were a fan of either team, he would not attend Game 5 of the NBA playoff series at Staples Center because of racially charged comments attributed to Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers noted that he couldn't say Jackson was wrong and understood his counterpart was speaking from the heart. Rivers still hoped fans would cheer on Tuesday.
"If they feel differently, who can say they're wrong?" Rivers said.
The first-round series between the Warriors and Clippers is tied 2-2 heading into a pivotal Game 5 in Los Angeles and approaching a boiling point that has little to do the basketball being played on the court.
The NBA scheduled a news conference the morning of the game to make an announcement regarding the investigation involving Sterling, who is in hot water after a recording on TMZ.com surfaced of a man telling a girlfriend not to bring black people to games or associate with them in public.
The Clippers won't make their players available for interviews at the Tuesday morning shootaround and also canceled Monday's practice.
"I felt like they needed to breathe," Rivers said. "If you get your life better, then you can probably do your work better, if you know what I'm saying."
Rivers continued to serve as spokesman for his players while at the same time turning down an opportunity to speak with Sterling.
"I don't think right now is the time or the place with me personally, so I passed," Rivers said.
Jackson, meanwhile, offered an extraordinary Game 5 pregame call to action for fans.
"The loudest statement to be made is not showing up," Jackson said. "The noise of it not being tolerated, that this is a different time. It's unfortunate, and we cannot allow someone with these feelings to profit."
"I can only tell you what I would do, and as an African-American man that's a fan of the game of basketball and knows its history and knows what's right and what's wrong, I would not come to the game tomorrow whether I was a Clippers fan or a Warriors fan in the Staples Center tomorrow."
The Warriors evened the series with a 118-97 win at Oracle Arena on Sunday during which Stephen Curry got going on offense and the Clippers appeared distracted after staging a silent protest during warm-ups. The Clippers conceded as much, and Rivers said he wanted to get his players back.
"It wasn't like they went anywhere," Rivers said. "They were there. They were all over. That's the problem. It's very difficult, because there are so many emotions in this.
"When I look at our tape basketballwise, 70 percent of our defensive possessions were mistakes, were game-plan mistakes, and that's focus."
Jackson disagreed that the Clippers lost Game 4 because they were distracted, adding that the Warriors were affected too by the comments attributed to Sterling.
Said the Warriors' Jermaine O'Neal: "To take away from what we did, to me, was probably the most disappointing to hear people say that the Sterling situation had a lot to do with them losing. I think the Golden State Warriors had a lot to do with them losing yesterday."
The teams agreed that the best thing for the players involved was to perform on the court.
"The biggest statement would be playing and pouring our hearts out into something we've dreamt about doing and doing it in a way where no matter what color we are, we do this with class, dignity and integrity," Jackson said.
Rivers, who said he slept for only 45 minutes the night before Game 4, thought the dialogue that resulted from the situation was a silver lining.
"The way to keep this alive is by continuing to win," Rivers said. "If you want to make a statement, that's it. The more we win, the more this stays alive.
"This is not anything anybody wants to go through. This is never good for anyone. Having said that, they'll grow from this."
Game 5: Warriors at Clippers, 7:30 p.m. TNT, CSNBA