Klay goes off and gets loud in Game 6 win


OAKLAND -- The quietest Warrior turned up the volume Saturday night. Klay Thompson got loud. Got loud with his gestures, his shooting, his defense and, most uncharacteristically, his mouth.

That was Thompson on the court pumping his fists, yelling toward the rafters of Oracle Arena, exhorting the sellout crowd to get louder and, ultimately, pulling the Warriors back from cliff’s edge and into a Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.

“I just wanted to play with as much passion as I could tonight,” the normally stoic Thompson said. “Probably sounded more vocal than I usually am.

“When your back's against the wall, if your shot's not falling, you can always control your passion and how hard you play. Usually when I do that, it trickles over to other aspects of my game.”

In a Game 6 the Warriors had to win to keep their season alive, Thompson poured in 35 points, 21 in the decisive second half, as they blew past an early 17-point deficit to lay a 115-86 spanking on the Houston Rockets.

“Klay was amazing tonight, not just for 35 points and the nine threes, but his defense,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “The guy's a machine. He's just so fit physically. He seems to thrive in these situations. He was fantastic.”

Thompson’s history is dotted with games in which he goes on a scoring binge, his shot seeming never to miss. Those 21 second-half points game on 7-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc.

“Klay Thompson, what did he have, 60 in a quarter or something?” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni pondered semi-correctly. “That's an elite status, so, I don't think it's surprising to anybody.”

Thompson actually scored an NBA-record 37 points in a quarter, on 13-of-13 shooting, including 9-of-9 from deep, against the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 23, 2015. He went for 60 in three quarters on Dec. 5, 2016 against the Indiana Pacers, doing it 29 minutes to become the first player in the shot-clock era to ring 60 in less than 30 minutes.

Then there was Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals, with the Warriors in the same predicament they carried into Saturday. Down 3-2 to the Thunder and facing elimination, Thompson scored 41 points, with an NBA playoffs record 11 three-pointers, to lead the Warriors to victory that gave them a Game 7.

Kevin Durant was a member of the Oklahoma City team Thompson victimized, but he’d rather not relive it.

“Next question,” he said when asked about it.

Kerr has what he believes is an explanation for Thompson’s ability to lift his game when the stakes are high. It’s Thompson’s free mind.

“Klay doesn't worry too much about repercussions,” Kerr said. “He doesn't worry about judgment and results. I think he just loves to play. He's so comfortable in his own skin. I just think he wants to go out there and hoop, and he doesn't worry about much else.

“So the pressure doesn't seem to bother him much. He just competes and plays.”

Stephen Curry, Thompson’s backcourt partner for seven seasons, agreed with Kerr.

“That's why he is who he is,” Curry said. “He's kind of numb to the environment. He's excited to play basketball whether it's Game 2 of the regular season or Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.”

Though Thompson’s shooting will be the source of much conversation, his dogged defense of Rockets star James Harden also played a role in the direction of Game 6. After a strong first quarter -- 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting -- Harden was limited to 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting over the final three quarters. Moreover, he committed nine turnovers.

“The two-way ability of (Thompson) hounding the MVP of the league, most likely all game, and continuing to rain down 3-pointers, he’s amazing,” Kerr said.

Based on fist pumps and shouts, Thompson seemed to be as satisfied with his defense as his offense.

“He had great reason to be that excited tonight,” Curry said. “I like that fire and energy when you know he's engaged and appreciating what he's bringing to the game. A little fist pump, or him jumping up and down, whatever it is, when he's animated, that's good for us. As a team, we kind of keep our foot on the gas pedal and keep pushing, and him doing his part, for sure.”

The Warriors avoid elimination and take the series back to Houston for Game 7 on Monday. If you’re Klay Thompson and you don’t normally shout, it’s a good time to make an exception.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Rockets 95, Warriors 92
Game 5 Rockets 98, Warriors 94
Game 6 Warriors 115, Rockets 86
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm
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