“C’mon. I’ve seen so much, man. I’ve seen like real rivalries. This regular season stuff … this is child’s play. This is like slap boxing.” – Kobe Bryant after Friday’s loss to the Warriors
Slap bloxing? That’s cold, Kobe.
He played the Warriors for an irritating little stepbrothers. He brushed off Golden State’s emotional victory like an uncle dismisses his nephew’s lucky win in Scrabble.
It’s not hard to see how low the Lakers regard the Warriors. Even Laker fans, who were nearly as deep as Warrior fans Friday, were in Oracle with their chests out, resting their feet on the Warriors’ coffee table.
The Warriors and their fans certainly circle the Laker game on the calendar and relish any time their team can “Beat L.A.” Oracle went pretty crazy as the Warriors closed the game with a 14-4 run to steal a victory, snapping their nine-game skid to the Lakers. There was confetti. Leaping celebrations. An ovation. The crowd hasn’t been that ecstatic since the playoff series against Dallas. As a matter of fact, the crowd hasn’t been that large since the playoff series against Dallas. Friday’s attendance (20,705) set the record for largest crowd to witness a game in Cali.
To be sure, it was a big win for the Warriors. They moved to three games above .500 (13-10), which was vital heading into a five-game road trip starting Sunday. Plus, they got a win over one of their bullies, as the Lake Show has won 14 of the last 15 meeting before Friday.
Though playing the Lakers is the most anticipated game of the Warriors season, especially from the fans perspective, the Warriors don’t rate so high on the Lakers radar.
Why else would coach Phil Jackson pulled Kobe Bryant with 1:27 left in the game and the Lakers ahead 104-103? He brought him back in just over a minute later, but the Laker lead was now a four-point advantage. Jackson said it was because Bryant sustained a quad injury (some five minutes earlier). Seriously? If the Lakers were playing San Antonio or Phoenix, Bryant would finish the game with a splint trapped to his leg and no shoes.
Bryant tweaked his thigh some five minutes earlier. Jackson said he noticed Bryant was too hobbled to defend, but not for offense. So he took Kobe out.
That was a straight slap in the face to the Warriors, who Jackson thought that either a) the Lakers could win without Kobe, or b) wasn’t phased by a loss to the Warriors. Remember, Jackson held out starting small forward Luke Walton when the teams met in L.A. Sunday, so Walton can get an extra day of rest before facing San Antonio.
If Phil didn’t get the “Warriors who?” message across, Kobe did.
“(This loss) doesn’t hurt at all,” Bryant said. “Not one bit. … They played extremely well in the second half, made a lot of big shots. But we still had a lot of opportunities to win the basketball game. We feel very good about this game. This loss didn’t do anything for us.”