OAKLAND -- It would have been bad, very bad, if the Warriors lost to the Lakers at home on Monday night.
The Warriors are a team on the rise and they are making their final push to the playoffs — they had 11 regular-season games remaining at tipoff. And they needed this win — 109-103. Coming into the game, their record in March was 7-6, no big deal. Since the All-Star Game, their record was a pedestrian 10-9.
And let's be honest, losing to the Lakers would have been humiliating.
Because the Lakers, such as they are, should go jump in the lake. Maybe they already have. For three quarters you watched them throw away the ball and miss ill-advised jump shot after ill-advised jump shot, and play zero defense, and have zero team concept, and tell Dwight Howard to go after Andrew Bogut, and Howard shot two air balls in the first three minutes.
And after each Howard miss, David Lee pumped his fist like a college player in the NCAA tournament. After falling behind 6-2 right away, the Warriors took the lead and expanded it — you could call it "score bloat," and never gave it up. At halftime the Warriors led 63-40.
"The first half we made a major statement," coach Mark Jackson said afterward.
The Warriors kept stating. They led 94-76 after three quarters — Klay Thompson 3-pointers and Stephen Curry jumpers and Jarrett Jack floaters. Swish. And even though Kobe Bryant scored 36 points, so what?
And you said to yourself, shaking your head in disbelief, "What was that about Steve Nash being the final piece the Lakers needed?" And you said to yourself, "Are these chumps really the Lakers?"
The Lakers came back in the fourth quarter when the game was over — really it was — and mounted a comeback that didn't succeed. The comeback was an illusion, a mere footnote. The Lakers, who have lost three in a row, should change their name to the L.A. Fakers.
Keep this in mind. The Warriors had Stephen Curry, who scored 25. Warriors coach Mark Jackson decided at game time his point guard could play, decided after Curry showed up during warm-ups and took jumpers and pivoted right and left, a man testing his ankle, his weak link.
You could argue Jackson took a big risk, an unwarranted risk, allowing Curry to play after he sprained his ankle Saturday night. It is a fair argument. The Warriors didn't really need this game, not in the grand scheme of things, not if Curry might miss the playoffs or be subpar — or sub-ankle.
But Jackson, who, before the game, had said, "We're not going to put anybody out there just to be out there. He's too valuable to us," is off the hook, considering the Warriors won and Curry's ankle didn't fall off, or disintegrate into dust.
And this victory meant a lot.
Because the Lakers own the Warriors. Amend that — have owned.