Lakers guard Kobe Bryant tries to split the defense of Golden State's… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
This would have been a true embarrassment, the first of the Lakers' season.
It apparently took a while to realize whom they were playing, but the Lakers eventually assumed responsibility for a lousy first half in a 97-90 victory Friday over the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center.
Maybe the Lakers could not shake their dreary loss in Portland (again) the previous night. Maybe they figured they would pound the Warriors, who were without high-scoring guard Stephen Curry, out because of a sprained ankle.
Or maybe the attrition of nine games in 13 days caught up to them, the compressed schedule causing issues for plenty of teams, especially the veteran ones.
Whatever the case, Kobe Bryant added to his burgeoning file of "games played hurt," scoring a season-high 39 points on 13-for-28 shooting, making 12 of 14 free-throw attempts and handing out seven assists.
He was not thrilled with what happened.
After his buzzer-beating three-pointer ended the third quarter, he stalked to the bench, cursing, barely acknowledging teammates and Coach Mike Brown's congratulatory gesture.
He knew this game should have been a walk-through.
"The important things for us was to try and pick up our energy … play with a little bit more life," said Bryant, who scored 26 points in the second half.
Bryant is trying to push his way through the hurried four-month schedule and keeps receiving pregame shots that numb the torn ligament in his right wrist.
There's no talk of him resting in the near future. He would have to sit out three weeks for the wrist to feel somewhat better, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Surgery would cost him months, perhaps the rest of an already truncated season.
Brown seems fine with Bryant's path. There's not much of an option.
"I believe in our training staff and I believe in our doctors, so they're telling me everything's all right with it," he said. "There's not anything to worry about. There's no minute limitation or anything like that.
"I've got to trust that they're doing their job the right way and trust that Kobe's telling us the truth. We're going to move forward until I get told differently."
The Lakers had trouble moving in the first half.
It was the worst of their season, lowlighted by their 36.6% shooting percentage and 39-35 halftime deficit.
Adding to the Lakers' dismay, they had practically owned the Warriors, sweeping four of the last six season series and winning 12 of the last 13 games against them.
The Lakers (5-4) didn't get much on offense from Andrew Bynum, who had nine points on three-for-nine shooting but took 16 rebounds. They didn't get much of anything from Metta World Peace, who had two points in 10 minutes.
Matt Barnes was a spark, however, picking up 12 points in the second half and running the court with a purpose despite sustaining a minor right shoulder injury. He finished with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Monta Ellis had 18 points for the Warriors (2-5) and rookie guard Klay Thompson, the son of Lakers radio broadcaster Mychal Thompson, had 14 points.
Before Friday, the Lakers were the worst team in the league in forcing turnovers, coming up with a puny 11.4 a game.
They were better against Golden State, forcing 20 turnovers but committing 19 themselves.
Bryant predicted plenty of their victories would be ugly this season. Count this among them.