When the Warriors needed a big basket, Klay Thompson was there.
When they needed a big defensive stop, Thompson was there.
When Stephen Curry's game-high 37 points and his tremendous second half were not enough to ensure victory, Thompson was there to deliver.
Unfazed by a grueling travel schedule that concluded in the wee hours and dismissing his 4-point first half, Thompson summoned the kind of bravura performance that allows the Warriors to continue believing he will be a star.
Thompson's 3-pointer with 11.1 seconds left was the final statement in a 113-112 Warriors win over the Trail Blazers Sunday night at Moda Center. He finished with 27 points, 23 of which came during a furious second-half comeback.
Thompson arrived in Portland early Sunday morning, having taken three flights to arrive from the Bahamas, where he had attended funeral services for his paternal grandfather. Whether he would start was in question in hours before the game.
Thompson not only started but was the primarily defender on Portland star Damian Lillard. Moreover, Thompson finished. Emphatically.
"He's as cool as they come," coach Mark Jackson said. "It does not bother him making and missing shots. He's not afraid to take the next one.
"To think about what he's gone through the last 48 hours, to think about the travel, the fatigue mentally and physically and to think he had to guard Lillard the bulk of the time and was always guarding a live person out there . . . the way he came out of it . . . awfully proud of him. Well deserved night for him, for our guys and we missed him, no question about it."
Though Curry is the team's most fantastic player and its leader, Thompson is its most productive two-way player and, in a sense, its pivotal figure. His absence was glaring in a loss to lowly Cleveland on Friday. His presence was massive on Sunday.
"Klay hit some big-time shots down the stretch," Curry said.
Both guards were incredible in the second half, combining for 51 (Curry 28, Thompson 23) of the Warriors' 69 points. Each was essential to wiping out an 18-point third-quarter deficit, and each scored 15 in the fourth quarter.
"We were down and out for a second there in the third quarter, (and the margin) almost got to 20," Thompson said. "It just shows the resilience of this team and the unselfishness."
The win allowed the Warriors (42-26) to gain a game on the Trail Blazers (43-24) in the white-hot Western Conference playoffs race. It also gives the Warriors a second victory over Portland in three games this season.
The Warriors overcame poor shooting and numerous defensive breakdowns to adhere when the game was on the line. They heated up to shoot 57.9 percent (11 of 19) in the fourth quarter, while holding Portland to 30 percent (6 of 20). Thompson even managed to get one of his two blocks in the final minutes.
"That's as good of win as we've had in three years," Jackson said. "When you think about it, really, we were out of character early on in that basketball game. I thought in the first half we were selfish offensively and defensively. Give these guys credit."
Give Thompson a gold star. And give another to Curry. They deserve nothing less.
THE GOOD: Thompson was heroic and Curry was, well, extraordinary. Their second-half performances could be packaged and marketed as examples of will.
Draymond Green's numbers rarely illustrate his true value and this game is no exception. He had 5 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals – and helped save the Warriors by defending those players David Lee did not.
Steve Blake came off the bench to play 18 minutes, with 5 points and two assists, but was a +13. Yes, good things tend to happen when he's on the floor.
THE BAD: Jackson rarely pulls a player immediately after a mistake. But Lee's defensive work in the second half was so atrocious it forced the coach's hand.
Harrison Barnes continues to underachieve relative to his gifts. He scored 5 points 2-of-8 shooting in 28 minutes. That's not atypical.
THE TAKE: For every deflating loss, and there have been a half dozen or so, the Warriors have a truly fabulous victory. This was another such game. Thompson exhibited uncommon grit, Curry summoned every ounce of determination and their teammates went along for the ride.
After an awful loss Friday night, the Warriors needed a bounce-back win. They got one, in most impressive style.