Programming note: Warriors-Lakers coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Stick around after the final buzzer for Warriors Postgame Live. Channel listings.
UPDATE (Friday, 10:55 a.m.) -- Steve Nash will not play for the Lakers against the Warriors Friday night, according to an ESPN report.
As Oklahoma City turned a close game into a blowout in the third quarter of Thursday’s 116-97 win against Golden State, Warriors coach Mark Jackson had a simple explanation.
“They played playoff basketball and we didn’t,” he said. “That was a team that is chasing the No. 1 seed and was trying to send a message, just in case I see you at some point down the road.”
Golden State (45-34) goes from a team chasing the top seed to one chasing the NBA’s final playoff spot Friday when it travels to Los Angeles to play the Lakers (42-37).
Los Angeles has won five of six, but leads Utah by just one game for the final spot in the Western Conference. While Utah has Minnesota twice and Memphis to end the year, the Lakers’ road is a bit harder with San Antonio and Houston after Golden State.
If the Lakers and Jazz finish tied, Utah would head to the postseason.
"We've got no breathing room at all," Kobe Bryant told Los Angeles reporters. "I'm still on edge. We've got to win three more games and we're in."
The Warriors will be without center Andrew Bogut who was not set to travel with the team after suffering a sprained left ankle in the first quarter against Oklahoma City. It is the same ankle he has surgically repaired in April, but Jackson said the injury did not appear to be serious. The team did not perform X-rays after the game.
[RELEATED: Bogut sprains ankle against Thunder]
With 242 three-pointers, guard Stephen Curry needs 17 in the final three games to tie Ray Allen's NBA single-season record (269). Not taking into account the game he hit 11 against New York, Curry has just one three-game stretch this year in which he hit at least 17 threes.
The Warriors beat Los Angeles 109-103 in the teams’ previous meeting at Oracle Arena on March 25, but the Lakers took the first two, including a 101-77 victory at Staples Center on Nov. 9. Golden State hasn’t split the season series with the Lakers since 2007-08 and have lost nine straight to them on the road.
Friday’s game will mark the second time this season the Warriors have to get on a plane to play the day after a home game. The first time they did it, the beat the Los Angeles Clippers 114-110 in the third game of the season.