Klay, Warriors get sparks from team briefings before win over Knicks originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — Klay Thompson searched, pushed and struggled in the early stages of the season to find himself and be the player he believes can still be for the Warriors. In Golden State’s 111-101 win over the New York Knicks Friday night at the Chase Center, Thompson suffered a stroke in the first quarter, and Golden State as a whole showed big signs of what they expect of themselves.
And it all started with a pass. Better yet, it all started with firing a shot.
Two possessions After Thompson missed his first shot of the night, he was in the right place to put it in front of the Warriors bench from the right corner. He looked ready to shoot and even stretched out like he was going to. However, he took a dribble, kicked it out and Steph Curry quickly found Kevon Looney down.
Looney converted for two tough points and Klay couldn’t help it. He turned to the Warriors bench and pointed to his teammates and coaches, giving them all the silent notion that the message had been received.
“This is how the game is supposed to be,” said Steve Kerr of Thompson’s early patience and ball movement.
Thompson has played his best game of the season so far. He scored 20 points in 31 minutes while going 8-for-16 from the field and 4-for-10 from the 3-point area. This was his second game this season in which he scored 20 points or more, and the first in front of home fans.
What stood out more was how Thompson scored his points. He might have caught a bad shot or two throughout the night, a huge improvement over what we’ve seen of him. Nothing was forced, the game eventually came to him. The win marked the first time Thompson has shot 50 percent or more in the 13 games he has played.
His plus-18 in plus-minus was also a season high and his best since Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals a season ago.
“A lot more patient in the beginning and it paid off for him,” Kerr said. “It paid off for our team too. It seemed like every time Klay made an extra pass, the ball would start moving and then we got a wide-open shot. We ended up with 32 assists. So it started so that Klay was more patient to approach.
“I thought he was great and then the game rewarded him. He made some big shots on the track and I just thought the quality of his attempts was much better tonight.”
While Thompson’s efficient evening played a big part in the Warriors’ seventh win of the season, it all starts, as always, in 30th place.
Curry’s 50-point effort wasn’t enough in the Warriors’ previous game, a loss to the Phoenix Suns. He scored when needed on Friday night and lost 16 of his 24 points in the second half. But his mindset was clear from the start.
Steph was keen to get his teammates up and running early, particularly fellow Splash Brother. The Warriors’ first five shots were all assisted by Curry. He finished with 10 assists, good for his third double-double of the season and second game with 10 or more assists.
“You could tell Steph was purposeful in the game and being a point guard and making the ball move and dispersing and making our offense click,” Kerr said. “Once we found that he was starting to get more aggressive I thought Steph was brilliant tonight.”
The pairing of Curry and Thompson scored a combined 44 points. They were both plus 18. They weren’t alone either.
Andrew Wiggins scored 20 points, Jordan Poole gave the Warriors 13 points off the bench and JaMychal Green was right behind him with 12.
Draymond Green added 10 points and was hardly shy from a triple-double with nine rebounds and seven assists. Stats aren’t what propelled the Warriors to their most complete win of the season.
Their voices did.
“We had a great team meeting this morning,” revealed JaMychal Green after the win. “We raised a lot of things that needed to be addressed. I think we’re starting to bring it together.”
He later said the Warriors players “spoke to the elephants in the room,” believing that while it was a tough conversation, it was a much-needed one. Being more closely connected as a team, both offensively and defensively, was a big issue. Moving the ball and not forcing anything was also addressed.
So Thompson played, and he agreed how productive Draymond’s lecture was for everyone.
Draymond and Thompson specifically had what Klay called a “great conversation,” which centered on Green reminding him to trust his teammates and continue to be patient, which is what he demonstrated against the Knicks.
“Very constructive meeting and Draymond definitely kept his word,” he said. “He’s such a great motivator. We all reacted very well. I’m just looking forward to starting a new winning streak.”
It’s not often that the defending champions need such talks so early in the season. At the same time, the warriors don’t often fight like they used to.
No more messing around. Kerr called out his team’s lack of joy and connectivity in Phoenix. His players took note and wasted no more time.
“They can be very useful,” Klay continued when discussing the Warriors team reunion. “We thought that morning was an incredible kind of growth for us and the whole team. Some early season adversity is right in front of us and the most important thing is how we respond to it.
“I thought we reacted really well tonight and played the Warriors-branded basketball that made us the best team of the decade.”
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Point taken, point proved. There may be areas that need repairing as well as reason to believe the warriors are now on the right track.
The path now takes them back to the streets for two games, where they started the season with an 8-0 record outside the friendly confines of their home crowd. Wins in Houston and New Orleans will prove if that was a short-lived silver lining or if Golden State really got it all figured out.
It’s not always easy to say with this team after 16 games. Bet on the latter. Accountability was received in court this morning. Hours later, the focus was again on joy and, as so often, a win followed on the scoreboard.