Before the Lakers and Clippers faced off for the second time this season, Kobe Bryant paid his upcoming opponents all sorts of compliments.
"They're definitely one of the top contenders," Bryant told reporters after practice on Thursday when asked if the Clippers could take home the first Larry O'Brien Trophy in franchise history.
“They’re very spectacular. They’re fun to watch. There’s no question about it,” Bryant added, as he talked about this "Lob City" crew in relation to the vaunted "Showtime" Lakers of Magic Johnson's era. “They have higher jumpers than Showtime, though.”
After the opening tip on Friday night, however, Bryant was far less deferential. After intercepting a pass from Clippers' point guard Chris Paul late in the first quarter, the 34-year-old veteran also let everyone know that his high jumping days weren't completely behind him. With CP3 tracking back to defend, Bryant rose up and slammed the ball home for an emphatic bucket.
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Paul may have been posterized by Bryant on this play but he had the last laugh as the Clippers edged the Lakers, 107-102. In the climactic minutes, Paul scored the Clippers' final eight points to hold off a late charge by Bryant and the "visiting" Lakers. Bryant finished with 38 points while Paul tallied 30 points and 13 assists.