ORACLE ARENA – So much has changed, yet so little has changed.
As the Warriors continue to chase that elusive “for real” tag, a win against the Los Angeles Lakers could have acted as a marker of sorts in the evolution of the team.
But Kobe Bryant can be too persistent.
Bryant scored 34 points on 41 shots as the visiting Lakers snatched a 118-115 overtime victory against the Warriors on Saturday night.
“We are very disappointed, but we can’t get too low,” said Stephen Curry, who finished with 20 points in the loss. “We’ve been playing some great basketball in the first part of the season.”
This time around, it was supposed to be different. The Los Angeles Lakers were drowning; the Golden State Warriors were surging.
It appeared that the power shift was moving north to Oakland, but despite holding a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter, the Lakers hit too many big shots down the stretch and the Warriors couldn’t hold on in the extra time.
It was the first time the Warriors lost after leading heading into the fourth quarter.
The stabilizing force was Jarrett Jack, whose 29 points off the bench included a number of clutch shots throughout the night. After the game, it was the veteran Jack who was talking to young players, such Festus Ezeli and Curry, sharing the need to not dwell on losses.
“The NBA is a bunch of ups and downs,” said Jack, who was 13-for-19 on the night. “It’s about peaks and valleys and you just try to stay as straight-and-narrow as you can, put it behind you and move forward.”
Obviously, Bryant has never been a timid shooter in his all-time great career. Bryant went into video game mode on Saturday night, connecting on 16-for-41 shots for his 34 points. He also added 10 rebounds and five assists.
“When a guy puts up 41 shots, he is going to make some of them,” Warriors rookie Harrison Barnes said. “You can play the best defense possible but he’s going to hit tough shots. You’ve just got to live with that.”
Running through the final minutes of the fourth quarter is like attempting to transcribe a boxing match. Each team did it’s best to deliver a knockout punch, only to watch the other continue to stand and punch back.
After trailing by as many as 14 points, Jodie Meeks hit a three-pointer to give the Lakers a 98-97 lead. The teams traded baskets and the Warriors held a one-point lead until Metta World Peace's three-pointer with 24 seconds remaining gave the Lakers a 108-106 advantage. Jack answered with a 19-footer to tie the game at 108-108 before Bryant missed to end regulation.
The Lakers took control in overtime as Bryant scored six OT points to put the game out of reach for Golden State. Steve Nash hit big buckets late in the game in his return, and had 12 points and nine assists in 40 minutes.
The Warriors held the lead early and went on a 14-0 run during a three-minute span late in the first half and led 61-49 with 1:13 remaining in the second quarter.
The Warriors led 61-53 at halftime, powered by Jack’s 18 points on 8-for-11 in the first half. The Warriors turned the ball over 10 times in the first quarter but just once in the second quarter. The Warriors finished with 20 turnovers.
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