OAKLAND, Calif. — Before he walked through the tunnel and out of Oracle Arena for the final time, Kobe Bryant stopped for a quick chat with Stephen Curry.
Curry congratulated Bryant, who offered his own kind words.
"He told us to chase history, keep doing what we’re doing," Curry said. "He’s a guy that’s won multiple championships, knows the grind it takes to get that done. So, he’s just passing the torch."
Curry scored 26 points, with his first eight baskets coming on 3-pointers, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Los Angeles Lakers 116-98 Thursday night in what was likely Bryant’s last game in Oakland.
Bryant had eight points, six rebounds and three assists in 27 1/2 minutes. It was the Lakers’ final regular-season visit to Oracle Arena, and Bryant plans to retire after the season.
"This place has always been a special place to play," Bryant said. "They’ve always been great fans. To have that appreciation from them tonight was pretty awesome. I was really stiff, but I thought it was the right thing to do, go back in the game and play and try to enjoy it one more time."
Curry put the Warriors ahead 84-70 on a one-handed breakaway dunk off a long pass from Andre Iguodala in the closing seconds of the third quarter for his first score inside the 3-point line. The reigning MVP made eight 3s for the eighth time this season and the 18th time in his career — most in NBA history.
"I still wish he would lay all those up," interim coach Luke Walton said of the dunk. "That was a nice throw down he had."
Bryant received many a hug at midcourt from the Warriors prior to the opening tip and again after the final buzzer before walking through the tunnel to roars from the crowd. He started despite a sore right shoulder and a right Achilles tendon strain and made his first shot. He left to a warm ovation with 3:04 to play, saying "thank you" and waving.
"It’s nice that he gets the respect he deserves around here," Curry said. "Obviously, 20 years in the Pacific Division playing in plenty of games here, I think it’s 30-plus, never had a playoff series but the battles in the division mean a lot. I know our fans respect what he’s able to do in his career any time they play the Warriors."
Draymond Green had seven points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals for Golden State after missing Wednesday night’s loss in Denver for rest.
During pregame introductions, the Warriors showed a tribute to Bryant from Lakers Hall of Famer and Golden State executive Jerry West with a highlight video on the main scoreboard. Fans in the sellout crowd — including retiring Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson, Oakland quarterback Derek Carr and Athletics manager Bob Melvin — chanted "Kobe! Kobe!" before a rousing ovation when his name was called.
Bryant waved, tipped his head and clapped his hands in appreciation.
Playing a back-to-back following their third defeat of the season, the defending NBA champions needed a half to get rolling on the way to their 37th consecutive regular-season home victory and 19th this season dating to a 113-111 overtime loss to Chicago last Jan. 27.
Curry followed up his 38 points against the Nuggets a night earlier by shooting 9 for 18 to go with six rebounds and three assists. Golden State overcame a slow start to win its fourth in a row against Los Angeles and seventh straight in the series at home. It’s the Warriors’ longest home unbeaten streak in the rivalry since taking seven in a row from 1993-95.
While Bryant has had many special performances against Golden State — such as his first career 50-point game — he was 4 for 15 on Thursday. That’s after he went 1 for 14 for four points in a 111-77 loss Nov. 24, when the Warriors set an NBA record as the first team to begin a season 16-0 and then ran that streak to 24-0.
That matched the worst shooting performance of Bryant’s career in a game when he had at least one basket.
KOBE’S MEMORABLE MOMENTS
Bryant produced his first career 50-point game with 51 on Dec. 6, 2000, at Oracle Arena — his highest output ever here — and Golden State star Antawn Jamison also scored 51 that night in a 125-122 overtime win against the Lakers.
Bryant played his 33rd game in the Bay Area for the most regular-season games at Golden State by an active player, and he came in averaging 27.1 points on the road against the Warriors, including a 28-point average at Oracle.
Bryant’s 1,800 points against the Warriors are his most against any opponent.
In honour of Bryant’s five NBA titles, the Warriors gifted him a five-day Napa Valley vacation with five wineries and five restaurants included. He also received a five-litre bottle from Amuse Bouche winery featuring a special label with his jersey.
Lakers: F Brandon Bass didn’t play because of a sore right foot. … The Lakers have just one winning streak this season, three in a row from Dec. 30 to Jan. 3. … Los Angeles has lost eight of nine to Golden State.
Warriors: Green shot around Thursday morning and deemed himself ready. … Harrison Barnes scored 12 points for his fourth straight game in double figures and fifth in six.
Lakers: At Utah on Saturday.
Warriors: At Detroit on Saturday.