ONTARIO — No, Warriors swingman Stephen Jackson and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant didn't brawl at midcourt.
Jackson's publicly expressed lack of fanship for Bryant might have led some to think that something would go down during the Lakers' 113-107 exhibition win Tuesday night at the Citizens Business Bank Arena.
Things were certainly competitive between the two, but the only drama was a lack of communication.
"I'm a competitor and who better to compete against than Kobe," Jackson said. "Neither one of us said anything to each other. It would never get off the court because we aren't going to see each other off the court. So the best thing for us — since neither one of us wanted to give away any money — was to go out there and play hard and let the referees control the game."
This entire situation did, however, give Jackson a platform to prove to his teammates that he's all in. The resigned captain established he's still the team's emotional leader despite his desire to be traded and recent comments about the lack of support from coaches and his teammates.
Jackson's willingness to lock horns with Bryant, his ability to keep his composure and his relatively controlled performance left members of the locker room saying, "I told you so."
"Inside our house, we know how he's been competing and playing," said assistant coach Keith Smart, who served as head coach Tuesday while Don Nelson dealt with a family matter. "How he's been taking care of himself and not lose his cool. This was a game where he could've easily done that, but he was thinking about the team, and he sacrificed anything that may have come across his mind for the team."
"That's him," guard C.J. Watson said. "I don't expect anything less from him. ... Everybody should be that way, not going to back down from anybody. If more of us were, we'd be a better team."
From the outset, Jackson and Bryant were locked in a heated matchup. They exchanged emotionless pats before the game, with no eye contact and no words. During the game there was a lot of jockeying for position, slapping hands away and elbows in the back.
Bryant — who finished with 21 points and five rebounds — opened the game with a jumper over Jackson, the first of five consecutive possessions going right at Jackson.
Meanwhile, Jackson, who had 15 points to go with 10 assists and four turnovers, didn't force shots like he's been known to do and didn't get consumed with talking to officials.
Midway through the first quarter, Bryant reached from behind and appeared to foul a driving Jackson, who kept going and found Ronny Turiaf for a dunk. Jackson just shot a look at the replacement referees.
With 3:05 left in the quarter and the Warriors on a break, Jackson tried to get an early post-up on Bryant and was knocked to the ground. Jackson got the call and didn't react at all.
Early in the third quarter, Jackson knocked down a 3-pointer and assisted on three consecutive baskets to lead an 11-4 run that put the Warriors ahead 62-61.
"He doesn't have a captain's C on his shoulder, but he does it for us," rookie guard Stephen Curry said. "He was a leader."
Note: Nelson and his family are struggling with his brother-in-law's motorcycle accident Sunday. Mark Van Kampen, the brother of Nelson's wife, Joy, had a leg amputated after the accident. "When your wife hurts, you hurt," Smart said. "Joy is hurting really bad."