Kobe Bryant wouldn’t have taken Serge Ibaka’s below-the-belt hit lying down.
If Ibaka, whose Oklahoma City Thunder hosts the Los Angeles Lakers tonight, hits Bryant the way he did the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin on Sunday — i.e., with a slap in the, er, tender vittles — Bryant will retaliate.
“I probably would have smacked [Ibaka] in the mouth,” Bryant said after Lakers practice Monday (via Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times). “I would have dealt with the pain after.”
Easy for him to say. That kind of pain has a mind of its own. Griffin crumpled to the floor Sunday and Ibaka was hit with a Flagrant 1 foul in the Thunder’s 108-104 win. The league hasn’t announced any fine or suspension for Ibaka, who presumably will play tonight.
Not surprisingly, Dwight Howard differs from Bryant in how he’d deal with Ibaka: “I mean, you got to wear a cup,” he joked (via Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles).
A win in Oklahoma City would be big for the Lakers, who’ve clawed their way to .500 and are two games out of the final Western Conference playoff spot. The Thunder have won four of their last five games; the Lakers have won 13 of 18 and recognize the urgency of their situation.
“Every win is a win for us right now, and every loss is a big loss,” Steve Nash said. “So, we got to just keep playing at a high clip.”