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Clippers Playoff Ratings Swell During Donald Sterling Firestorm

The NBA franchise owner, outed for racist remarks over the weekend, sees his L.A. basketball team lose on Sunday night -- though TV viewership and online attention swells.

Donald Sterling V Stiviano - H - 2014
Associated Press
Donald Sterling with girlfriend V. Stiviano

Just a week into the 2014 NBA playoffs, the highest-rated game thus far comes on a wave of controversy.

Sunday's San Francisco showdown between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Golden State Warriors fetched a 5.0 overnight rating -- just two days after Clippers owner Donald Sterling made headlines for a leaked recording in which he told girlfriend V. Stiviano not to bring black people to games.

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No real correlation can be drawn between the scandal and the boosted ratings, but the sports community has been actively covering Sterling's comments and the fallout in the NBA in the short time since the news broke late Friday night.

That's one reason why the game might have been the most social sporting event of the last week. The latest release from TV-Twitter monitor Nielsen Social has the game topping all other NBA game of the last seven days as the most tweeted-about across all of sports with 590,000 tweets and a unique audience of 8.085 million taking part in the online conversation. 

Public fallout from the recording has been swift, with Magic Johnson (called out by name in the recordings) among those speaking out against Sterling. The NBA announced that it will hold a Tuesday press conference about its investigation into Sterling.

The Clippers, to be sure, are still a draw all on their own. Prior to Sunday's ABC telecast, Thursday's game on TNT topped all of cable for the night with a 1.8 rating in the targeted demo of adults 18-49.

Game 5 between the Clippers and the Warriors is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Tuesday night, and will air on TNT.