CLEVELAND – Klay Thompson vented just enough Wednesday night that his anger had softened by Thursday afternoon.
The All-Star guard’s left thigh is sore, restricting him to riding a stationary bike as the Warriors prepare for Game 4 of the NBA Finals, but was more lenient on the intentions of Cavaliers big man Timofey Mozgov, the moving mountain that sent Thompson sprawling in Game 3.
Thompson backed off the “dirty” allegation he leveled at Mozgov late Wednesday night, in the aftermath of Game 3.
“As I watched the replay, it might have just been bad luck, too,” Thompson said before practice at Quicken Loans Arena. “A knee to the thigh never feels good. I mean, I don’t think (Mozgov) he meant to do it maliciously.
“But, usually, when someone sets a screen, you usually do it with your chest or something. But I’m not going to hold a grudge.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr declined to address Mozgov’s screen. But Klay Thompson’s father, former NBA player Mychal Thompson, agreed with his son’s original assessment.
“You don’t stick your leg out there unless you want to hurt somebody, so I definitely agree with him,” Mychal Thompson said in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s website. “Obviously, you can’t respond the way you would be able to on the playground, because you don’t want to get suspended. But the only way to respond to that is to beat ‘em. That’s the only thing you can do.”
Defending Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving late in the first quarter, Thompson was blindsided by a moving Mozgov screen near the middle of the free throw line. Thompson landed with a thud, clutching his left thigh, which slammed into Mozgov’s knee on the play.
Mozgov, who is listed at 7-foot-1, 275 pounds, was whistled for a foul. Thompson stayed on the floor for a few moments before rising and limping into the locker room. He returned to the game in the second quarter.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue defended the actions of his center.
“Timo was running in to set a high pick-and-roll, and at the same time the ball-handler (Irving) was moving going forward,” Lue said. “So he just tried to stop, and they ended up running into each other. But I wouldn’t say it was a dirty play.”
Mychal Thompson did offer some advice for his son.
“You get treatment on it and you get right back out there,” he said. “This is The Finals. Everybody’s a little sore and beat up. You’ve just got to go out there and play. Put it out of your mind. You’ve got to get into that Kobe mode and say, ‘I’m not hurt’ and just go play.”