The gifts continued to come for Kobe Bryant.
The Golden State Warriors gave him a five-day stay in Napa Valley — one day for each championship — whenever he wanted it, complete with a dinner at the critically acclaimed and very, very expensive French Laundry.
Then the Lakers tried to grab another present for their aging superstar in his last trip to Oracle Arena — a completely unexpected victory against the league’s top team.
Reality railed against the concept, of course, and the Lakers lost, 116-98, after playing almost three competitive quarters.
Bryant played despite a sore right Achilles’ tendon but yielded only eight points on four-for-15 shooting in 28 minutes. He still has not sat out a “last stop” game since announcing his retirement, and it was soon obvious he would play Thursday despite being chased from Tuesday’s game in the second quarter because of the Achilles’.
“I think the fans deserve that effort from me,” Bryant said before tipoff, adding that he felt no pain while walking but soreness when ratcheting up his activity level.
Lakers trainer Gary Vitti wants him to sit out for a week or two. Bryant won’t be doing that.
“It’s hard for me to say, ‘OK, I’m going to shut it down for two weeks,’” he said, pledging to keep measuring the pain in his Achilles’ and acknowledging that, sure, he might one day sideline himself for a bit.
The Lakers were actually fine at halftime, down by only three points despite Bryant’s three-for-11 accuracy. For once, the Lakers weren’t the ones missing a ton of shots — Warriors starters Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were a combined four for 17 in the first half.
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant hugs Golden State Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton after their game on Thursday.(Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)
Lakers' Kobe Bryant waves to the crowd in Oakland after being taken out in the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.(Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, right, reacts after shooting a three-point jumper as Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson looks on during the first half on Thursday.(JOHN G. MABANGLO / EPA)
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, center, shoots a three-point jumper as Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson, right, defends during the first half on Thursday.(JOHN G. MABANGLO / EPA)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (24) shoots over Golden State’s Brandon Rush (4) during the game on Thursday.(Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers' Julius Randle (30) and Golden State’s Harrison Barnes (40) go for a loose ball during the game on Thursday.(Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, right, embraces Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) prior to the game on Thursday.(Ben Margot / AP)
Los Angeles Lakers’ Julius Randle, right, and Golden State Warriors’ Harrison Barnes reach for a rebound during the first half on Thursday.(Ben Margot / AP)
Los Angeles Lakers' Jordan Clarkson (6) goes up for a shot against Golden State’s Andrew Bogut (12) and Stephen Curry (30) during the game on Thursday.(Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)
Then the Warriors (37-3) became the Warriors, or at least a sound resemblance.
Stephen Curry (26 points) made three three-pointers in the third quarter and the end was near. The Warriors shot 34.8% in the first half, 67.5% after that.
Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points for the Lakers. D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle each scored 14. There would be no breakthroughs for the young Lakers against the defending NBA champions.
For all Bryant’s playoff battles, he never faced Golden State in the postseason. The Lakers even went 28-3 against the Warriors during a distorted stretch.
“It’s been fun to watch the [Warriors’] progression … and watching how the fans stuck by the team,” Bryant said, offering kind words in the absence of a rivalry or wildly memorable scoring nights here.
More important were the words chosen by Warriors consultant Jerry West during a Bryant tribute video on the scoreboard.
“Twenty years later, I was right, the Lakers were right ... and I see this resume that’s almost second to none,” West said.
West was Bryant’s mentor the first four years of his career, the one who fell In love with a 17-year-old’s workout and made a trade happen with Charlotte to bring Bryant to L.A.
All these years later, a 37-year-old checked off another arena for a final time.