And the Lakers superstar had a front-row seat while Davis stole a win for his Warriors.
Davis put his usual game-breaking flair on the decisive 3-pointer with 16.8 seconds to play, and Golden State roared from behind in the final minutes to snap a nine-game losing streak to Los Angeles with a 108-106 victory Friday night.
Davis had eight of his 22 points and a remarkable assist in the final 3:19 for the Warriors, who fed off of a playoff-worthy sellout crowd of more than 20,000 fans in yellow T-shirts to beat Los Angeles for just the second time in 16 meetings.
Bryant scored 21 points for the Lakers before injuring his quadriceps or groin with about 2 1/2 minutes to play, forcing him to sit out the two possessions in which the Warriors rallied.
“We kept our composure. We kept fighting in that huddle,” Davis said while scrolling through congratulatory e-mails at his locker. “We stuck together when things weren’t going great. That’s huge for us.”
Davis loves to put on a show against his hometown team, but foul trouble and the Lakers’ size advantages prevented him from doing it until the last minute. He picked up his fifth foul with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, sitting out nearly 9 minutes before returning to spark Golden State’s 13th victory in 17 games.
“That’s when he plays big,” said Stephen Jackson, who had 20 points and eight rebounds. “That’s when he steps up and puts the team on his back. He’s done it many times.”
Few were more impressive than this lift—even with Bryant only watching.
Los Angeles had an eight-point lead with 3 1/2 minutes to play when the Warriors went through a 4:45 stretch with just one field goal. But Davis led Golden State back with two free throws, a 3-pointer and an assist on Jackson’s tying layup with 1:54 left before Bryant was hurt. Bryant said he hurt his quadriceps, while the Lakers said it was his groin.
“It felt like a little tweak, and I tried to shake it off and stretch it out,” said Bryant, the NBA’s second-leading scorer. “As soon as I took off running, it felt like I was shot in the leg.”
Derek Fisher hit one free throw for the Lakers after Bryant checked out, but Andris Biedrins tipped in Monta Ellis’ missed jumper to put Golden State ahead 105-104 with 1:03 left. After Lamar Odom missed a flailing jumper, Davis hopped behind the line, launched a perfect 3-pointer with 16.8 seconds left and blew kisses to the crazed crowd.
Davis never thought about passing.
“I was going to shoot it. I had the hot hand,” he said.
Bryant returned, but missed a 3-pointer before Odom scored the Lakers’ final basket. Odom drew a foul and rebounded his own missed free throw, but Ellis stole it with 4 seconds left to end the Lakers’ comeback hopes.
“If they can make their 3’s, they can be exciting and inspirational,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
Bryant insisted he’ll be ready to play Sunday against the Clippers, and he scoffed at the notion Golden State had finally turned this matchup into a rivalry.
“This is nothing. This is like slap-boxing,” Bryant said. “For a real rivalry, you have to match up in the playoffs. The regular season is nothing.”
Andrew Bynum scored 17 points and matched his career high with 16 rebounds for the Lakers, whose four-game winning streak was snapped by their first loss in five trips to Oakland. Odom had 18 points and 15 rebounds, while Fisher added 16 points for the Lakers, who haven’t won five straight since last March.
Al Harrington scored 22 points for the Warriors, and Ellis added 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists after missing the previous game with a strained left thigh.
Bynum, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds in the Lakers’ 10-point win over Golden State last Sunday, was nearly as dominant early on in Oakland. He outplayed Biedrins in the first half again as the Lakers took an early 13-point lead. Davis hit three 3-pointers in less than 3 minutes spanning halftime to tie it, but then picked up his fifth personal foul.
Phil Jackson and Don Nelson became the latest reluctant NBA coaches to wear microphones on the sideline for the television broadcast. While Jackson had done it before, Nelson didn’t relish his first time under the mike. “It’s going to be hard to be yourself, for sure,” Nelson said before the game. “You end up being an artificial person … (but) my superiors demanded that I do it, so we’ll do the best we can. Since four-letter words are about all I know, it’s really cutting into my vocabulary.” … The Warriors claimed the Oracle Arena crowd of 20,705 was the largest ever to watch a basketball game in California, surpassing a Warriors playoff crowd last spring. … Davis, Jackson and Harrington all picked up technical fouls.