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News » Warriors: Jackson, Bryant maintain their cool

Warriors: Jackson, Bryant maintain their cool

Warriors: Jackson, Bryant maintain their cool ONTARIO No, Warriors swingman Stephen Jackson and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant didn't brawl at half court.

Jackson's publicly expressed lack of admiration for Bryant, whom he said plays dirty, might have led some to think something would escalate Tuesday night at the Citizens Business Bank Arena. Things were certainly competitive between the two, but the only drama was the lack of communication.

"I'm a competitor, and who better to compete against than Kobe?" Jackson said after the Lakers' 113-107 exhibition victory. "Neither one of us said anything to each other. It would never get off the court, because we aren't going to see each other off the court. So I think the best thing for us since neither one of us wanted to give away any money was to go out there and play hard and let the referees control the game."

This entire situation did, however, give Jackson a platform to prove to his teammates that he's all in. The resigned captain showed that he is still the Warriors' emotional leader despite his desire to be traded and recent comments about the lack of support from coaches and teammates.

Jackson's willingness to lock horns with Bryant (arguably the greatest player in the world), his ability to keep his composure and his relatively controlled performance left members of the locker room saying I told you so.

"Inside our house, we know how he's been competing and playing, how he's been taking care of himself and not losing his cool," said assistant coach Keith Smart, who is serving as head coach while Don Nelson tends to a family matter. "This was a game where he could've easily done that, but he was thinking about the team."

"That's him," guard C.J. Watson said. "I don't expect anything less from him. We've got to ride with him. ... Everybody should be that way, not going to back down from anybody. If more of us were (like that), we'd be a better team."

From the outset, Jackson and Bryant were locked in a heated matchup. They exchanged emotionless pats before the game, with no eye contact and no words.

Bryant, who finished with 21 points and five rebounds, opened the game with a jumper over Jackson, the first of five consecutive possessions going right at Jackson.

Jackson lifted the Warriors with his passing, finishing with 15 points and 10 assists. He didn't force shots like he has been known to do, and he didn't get consumed with talking to officials.

The matchup did get testy. Bryant clearly was focused on locking down Jackson. There was a lot of jockeying for position, slapping hands away and elbows in the back.

Midway through the first quarter, Bryant reached from behind and appeared to foul a driving Jackson, who kept going and found Ronny Turiaf for a dunk. Jackson just shot a look at the refs when the play ended.

So, after causing drama for most of training camp with his run-in with Nelson and various comments, Jackson again was the Warriors' leader Tuesday.

"He's showing that we can compete with anybody in the league," rookie guard Stephen Curry said. "He doesn't have a captain's C on his shoulder, but he does it for us. He was a leader."

Smart said Nelson and his family still are struggling with his brother-in-law's accident Sunday, which led to his leg being amputated. "When your wife hurts, you hurt," Smart said. "Joy is hurting really bad. Coach has always been big on family. So he's doing as well as he can."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 21, 2009


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