With 0.5 of a second still remaining on the first-half clock Monday night and his team trailing the Warriors by 23 points, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant walked off the court and headed dejectedly for the locker room.
The message had been sent.
"We've played 72 games, and the survey says that we're the better basketball team," Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said. "That cannot be debated. We were not going to come into this game on our heels.
"We respect them. They've got some guys who are going to be in the Hall of Fame. ... But this is a different day, and we're a different basketball team."
The Warriors can make those types of claims for the first time in nearly 20 years and now have more proof with Monday's 109-103 victory, during which they generally dominated the Lakers in front of the 25th consecutive sellout crowd at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors played with a confident edge, initiated the physical play and forced the Lakers to try to keep pace with their up-tempo style. The Warriors outshot the Lakers (47.8 percent to 39.6) and led for the final 43:47, including a 25-point advantage in the third quarter.
In winning six of their past eight games, the Warriors (41-31) secured their first non-losing season since 2007-08, built a little cushion in the playoff race and continued to point toward a changing of the guard.