OAKLAND -- Warriors coach Mark Jackson was asked what it would take for his team to beat the visiting Los Angeles Lakers on Monday. He caught himself before answering, then let out a chuckle.
"Ahhh, man," Jackson said. "The Wizards just beat them."
Jackson's point: It won't take a monumental effort to beat the Lakers, even if Kobe Bryant is playing like he's 25 again. The Warriors are good enough to beat the storied Lakers just by playing their game.
Of course, a big part of their game could be missing if point guard Stephen Curry can't play. He sprained his right ankle in the fourth quarter of Saturday's win over Washington. He received treatment Sunday and will do the same Monday before determining if he can play.
"We've all got to play more collectively and be aggressive," Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. "We've got to share the ball and be unselfish. We can't do it individually. Steph is one of our leaders. We've won without him before, but it's not easy to replace Stephen Curry."
Perhaps it's because of the history of the two franchises, or maybe because the Warriors have yet to beat the Lakers in two tries this season. But it's clear many still aren't buying Golden State's superiority over Los Angeles. Well, outside of the locker room, anyway,
The Warriors are 31/2 games ahead of the Lakers. Monday is the first of two remaining meetings, but Golden State has a far more favorable schedule.
Eight of the Warriors' last 11 games are at home, and seven of their remaining games are against losing teams. The Lakers, on the other hand, play half of their last 12 games away from Staples Center. They play seven games against teams currently in position to make the playoffs.
It's going to take a late surge by the Lakers and a collapse by Golden State for the SoCal squad to catch up.
"Our biggest goal as a team," forward David Lee said, "is to keep playing good ball like we have been these last five games and continue to make our playoff push."
The rivalry between the Warriors and Lakers is ever-present among the fans. Golden State loyalists could use the satisfaction of a Warriors win over the Lakers, who usually have enough fans to fill half of Oracle when their team comes to town.
Getting that victory has proved tough for the Warriors, who have lost six straight to the Lakers (three straight at Oracle).
But Golden State contends it isn't looking over its shoulder in fear of the Lakers, who feature four All-Stars and were expected by many to contend for a championship. The Warriors fashion themselves as past the stage of finding vindication in a win over the Lakers.
"I think the statement is that if we play a complete game," Warriors guard Jarrett Jack said, "we can beat anybody that's in front of us."
Los Angeles Lakers (36-34) at Warriors (40-31), 7:30 p.m. CSNBA
Marcus Thompson lists the five keys to beating the Lakers in his "Inside the Warriors" blog at www.ibabuzz.com/warriors/