OAKLAND -- The standings, Mark Jackson said, already proved the Warriors are better than the Los Angeles Lakers. Now, Golden State has the head-to-head victory to prove it.
Point guard Stephen Curry went from questionable to playing 43 minutes and coming three rebounds short of a triple-double in the Warriors' 109-103 victory Monday night at Oracle Arena. Playing on a sprained right ankle, Curry had 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds to help Golden State snap a six-game losing streak to the Lakers.
Save for a timid fourth-quarter performance, the Warriors took it to Los Angeles and overwhelmed their usual bully in the teams' third meeting this season.
"It's a message that was sent," Warriors coach Jackson said. "I wanted my guys to understand that we are the better team. ... We were not going to come into the game on our heels. We respect them and they have guys that will be in the Hall of Fame. ... That being said, this is a different day."
Lakers star Kobe Bryant tried his best to make them the same ol' Warriors. He scored 23 of his game-high 36 points in the second half. But a Warriors lead that reached 25 points was too much to overcome.
The Warriors' defense held the Lakers to 39.6 percent shooting. Meanwhile, the offense took care of the ball (11 turnovers) and exposed the Lakers' defensive flaws. Golden State shot 53.5 percent the first three quarters.
The Warriors (41-31) moved a game ahead of Houston for the No. 6 playoff seed in the Western Conference.
"I think we're starting to click," forward David Lee said after totaling 23 points and 12 rebounds. "I think we're getting on all cylinders."
They certainly were in the first half. Guard Klay Thompson scored 11 of his 22 points in the first quarter as Golden State took a 28-16 lead into the second.
Guard Jarrett Jack, who finished with 19 off the bench, pushed the lead to 16 with a layup and a floater to start the second quarter. Then at the 9:52 mark, a three-point play by forward Harrison Barnes gave the Warriors a 37-19 lead.
Golden State was up 19 in the final seconds of the half before an improbable ending. First, Lee dunked home Curry's missed 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left. Lakers forward Metta World Peace tried to throw the inbounds pass the length of the court, but it went out of bounds, giving the Warriors the ball underneath their own basket.
Spotting Bryant trying to front center Andrew Bogut, Curry lobbed the inbounds pass near the rim. Bogut tipped it in, sending the Warriors into the locker room with a 63-40 lead. A frustrated Bryant made his way for the locker room despite four-tenths of a second remaining.
The Warriors started the second half with three straight 3-pointers, the last a step-back from Curry with 8:32 left, putting Golden State ahead 75-50.
The large lead turned out to be a necessity for the Warriors.
Golden State led by 18 entering the fourth quarter but managed just 11 points the first 91/2 of the period. Settling for jumper after jumper, the Warriors went nearly four minutes without a basket.
A step-back jumper by Curry ended the drought, but then the Warriors went three minutes without scoring.
A 3-pointer by Steve Blake with 2:51 left cut the Warriors' lead to nine, sending the Lakers fans at Oracle into a frenzy and putting Golden State on edge. The lead was down to seven after a fadeaway by Bryant.
Golden State, desperately in need of a bucket, stuck with the pick-and-roll with Curry and Bogut. This time, Curry slipped a pass to Bogut cutting down the middle of the lane. Bogut dropped in the finger roll, putting the Warriors up 107-98. That proved to be enough to hold off the Lakers.
"Because it's the Lakers and because of where we are in the standings, these games matter," Curry said, who sprained his ankle Saturday in a win over Washington. "You've got to take advantage of them, especially when you're at home. It was a good win for us."
Sacramento (25-46) at Warriors (41-31), 7:30 p.m. CSNBA
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