Klay Thompson

Klay offers strong response to doubters in Warriors' win vs. Clippers

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SAN FRANCISCO – After a full month of being doubted, called out and generally looked upon as if his career were in a death spiral, Klay Thompson summoned a compelling reply Thursday night.

At age 33, with two major surgeries in his past – and a forgettable three quarters – he’s still capable of delivering when the Warriors need a lift.

Thompson’s 90 seconds of offensive brilliance in the fourth quarter energized Chase Center and his teammates, providing the push required to close out a 120-114 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

“That felt so good,” Thompson said. “At times, I feel like I can be pressing. I just want to make every shot I take. I wish basketball was that easy. But I’m proud of myself even when I’m 2-for-12, or whatever I was before that.”

Thompson was 4 of 14 from the field, including 1 of 6 from beyond the arc, and it looked as if it might be another one of those nights when his shot was allergic to bottom of the net. And then, boom. With the Warriors clinging to an 89-82 lead and 9:53 remaining, Thompson went to work.

He drained a triple off a Jonathan Kuminga dribble-handoff assist to push the advantage to 10. Thompson followed that with an old-fashioned 3-point play, pushing it to 13. After a Russell Westbrook layup cut it to 11, Klay turned one of his two offensive rebounds into a quick bucket that resulted in a 99-86 lead with 8:23 remaining.

“A timely run,” said Stephen Curry, who watched from the bench.

“He didn’t have much going before that run, and that’s Klay: Stay confident. Let the game come to you, and good things happen,” Curry added. “It was great to see him smile. Got the crowd into it. It was much needed.”

Thompson’s burst brought Clippers coach Tyronn Lue off the bench signaling a timeout. He had seen enough.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr glimpsed what he hopes to see more often, Klay giving the second unit – Jonathan Kuminga, Cory Joseph, Brandin Podziemski, Dario Sarić – key buckets and a 13-point lead. Thompson finished with 22 points on 8-of-18 shooting from the field, including 2 of 7 from deep.

His 10 points in the fourth quarter came on 4-of-5 shooting, including 1 of 2 from beyond the arc.

“That’s why he’s out there with that group, to give them a scorer,” Kerr said. “But as I said it felt like the game rewarded him for just continuing to fight and not worrying about anything. He kept shooting, and the ball kind of bounced his way.

“That’s the Klay that I expect really the rest of the year. I thought he was great in Sacramento the other night. As long as he’s patient and doesn’t beat himself up, and just stays with it, and brings the energy defensively, then he’s a great player.”

The Clippers kept coming, but the Warriors had found an elevated zest that was enough to hold on down the stretch. Ten points in 90 seconds, particularly from someone under a harsh spotlight, has a way of giving a team a jolt.

“I did not get discouraged,” Thompson said of his 4 of 14 start. “I would have been very disappointed if I ended that way. Instead, I kept hunting good shots and stayed positive and it worked out for me.”

Thompson is not the player he was five years ago. His body has been through too much. But this was a welcome blast from the past by the shooter who has carried the Warriors so spectacularly on so many occasions.

On this night, it was 90 seconds that came out of nowhere. That’s the thing with Klay’s shooting. He always has had the ability to go from awful to awesome in a blink.

This night was proof that, well, with all the chatter buzzing about Thompson’s head, that rare ability might not occur as often as it once did but it has not completely abandoned him.

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