OAKLAND— "Somebody's lying."
The words came out of Mark Jackson's mouth without a hint of hesitation, the Golden State Warriors coach defending himself and his players yet again in this season where their best offense has always been a good defense.
All the negativity, competing agendas and drama caused by assistant coach controversies, alleged Jerry West bans and the like, and the only thing that mattered to Jackson and his players late Thursday night was that they were still alive.
GAME 6: Warriors outlast Clippers
'DIRTY PLAY': O'Neal calls out Glen Davis
They won Game 6 of this first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers 100-99, forcing a Game 7 in Los Angeles on Saturday while staving off their coach's likely dismissal and giving Jackson at least one more night with the final say when he reached the postgame podium.
"I know there are people that want to speed up the (growth) process," Jackson said, his words certainly appearing to be aimed at the team's ownership and management. "(But) this is who we are. Part of the process is going through things, learning how to be consistent. I'm proud of my guys. It's been an incredible, incredible ride.
"Now against a three‑seed with two of the top 10 players in the world and a future Hall of Fame coach (in Doc Rivers), we are going to Game 7 in spite of all the sideline music. And I like my chances, because I've got a group of guys that want to do whatever it takes to win."
On the night where a loss may have brought the hammer down on his head, Jackson was slinging verbal salvos instead.
"The way that this team conducts itself, in spite of everything that we've gone through, all the lies, all the adversity, all the sources, I could not be prouder, because what we are doing collectively speaks against it," Jackson said. "Somebody's lying."
And therein lies the most fascinating part of this Warriors' saga.
Coaches who lie about whatever political battle they're currently involved in aren't usually able to pull the wool over their players' eyes. Yet as was evidenced yet again in Game 6, Jackson – whose personality and style have rubbed so many within the organization the wrong way at different times – has the full backing of these players who are now on the verge of pulling off the unexpected.
That's the unique part of this whole situation, the thing that makes it different than the many situations last postseason when coaching lives were on the line. These professional players – from Stephen Curry to David Lee on down – are taking the court with their coach and his uncertain fate in mind.
The staring contest between him and Warriors owner Joe Lacob, in other words, continues.
PHOTOS: Best of Clippers vs. Warriors
On most teams in the NBA, the notion of a No. 6 seed pushing a No. 3 seed to a Game 7 while not having their Defensive Player of the Year-candidate center (Andrew Bogut, fractured rib) would be grounds for applause. But after the Warriors landed Bogut one year and Andre Iguodala the next with role players galore in between, Lacob – whose team's 51-31 record was the franchise's best since 1991-92 – apparently decided that anything less than a push for the NBA Finals was a failure. He has eyes for Steve Kerr, or - as was reported by San Jose Mercury News - Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg.
Lacob has that right to have a wandering eye, of course, in large part because he led the group that paid a then-league-record $450 million for the team in the summer of 2010. But the problem for Lacob now, you see, is that the pressure shifts his way with every win and that day when his mind gets made up for him may be coming even closer.
The Warriors fanbase that has shown a willingness to boo Lacob before, knows the woeful history of its lovable loser: two playoff appearances in the last 19 years, one of which came on Jackson's watch last year when No. 6 Golden State upset the No. 3 Denver Nuggets in the first round before falling to the San Antonio Spurs.
They don't much care about the internal politics, whether it be the one-sided stories in the media (and that goes both ways) or the uncomfortable stuff that goes on when West, the NBA legend who has been a team consultant since 2010, decides to drop by the team's practices.
They like positive results. And on Thursday night, Jackson & Co. added version fuel to this fire by providing just that yet again.
"You get the feel that no matter what happens, our coach won't be our coach next year," Warriors center Jermaine O'Neal said after the win. "You just get that feel. But we are willing to give all we've got for this group, for that coach, and hopefully whatever that will and whatever we've given is good enough to take us as far as we should go."
Much like Jackson before him, O'Neal had a lot to say and - with this one crucial win - a little extra time to say it.
"Winning is hard, and hopefully everybody that supports this organization, that runs this organization, understands just how hard it is to win," he continued. "And if you get a group that's a good group that loves each other, that fights for each other, and can get a head coach (where) you see (former Warriors point guard and current Cleveland Cavaliers point guard) Jarrett Jack speaking about now from another situation, don't take that for granted (because) 51 (wins) can go to 31.
"You know, chemistry is everything, and we'll just keep fighting and find a way."
VIDEO: Warriors force Game 7
Golden State Warriors center Jermaine O'Neal talks about suffering a sprained knee and leaving Game 6 in a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, his status for Game 7 and the play involving Glen Davis. News10/KXTV