The same stone-cold no-conscience shooter so preposterously confident in his aim that he’ll fire anytime from almost anywhere, sometimes without regard to teammates, spent Saturday night breathing vibrant life into a laboring team.
Klay Thompson rescued the Warriors. Rescued their offense, rescued their postseason, rescued them from an elimination game that would immediately have sent them tumbling into a summer of dissatisfaction.
The fifth-year shooting guard grabbed Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals and didn’t let go until he scored a career-high 41 points, including an NBA postseason record 11 3-pointers, in lifting the Warriors to a 108-101 win over Oklahoma City.
“I should have had at least 13, because I missed some wide-open looks early,” said Thompson, who missed eight of his first 11 shots before heating up.
“Klay Thompson was ridiculous,” coach Steve Kerr said. “The shooting was some of the most incredible you’ll ever see.”
Thompson was 14-of-30 from the field, 11-of-18 from beyond the arc. He was persistent in the first half, a revelation in the second, scoring 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 7-of-10 from deep.
Indeed, never was Thompson better than down the stretch of this elimination game, punctuating this most impressive individual performance with a 19-point fourth quarter – including 5-of-6 from deep – that pulled the Warriors back from a seven-point deficit.
“He understood the moment,” Stephen Curry said of Thompson. “There were crucial situations especially to start that fourth quarter where a 4-point game, a 6-point game, an 8-point game, he hit a timely shot to keep us in it.
“Obviously, the one where it's tied and he comes down and knocks down a 3 in transition, that was huge.”
That shot, a 25-foot trey with 1:35 remaining, gave the Warriors their first lead, 104-101, of the second half. They never lost it.
That’s because Thompson never stopped chucking.
“I try to feel like that every game, whether I'm 2-for-18 or 14-for-18,” he said. “I just try to be a continuous player, forget about whether the shot went in or not and just help my shot.
“Believe it or not, I practice with range, and my feet were set, my legs were under me, I was in a great flow, so all I had to do was catch and release.”
No single shot exhibited more Thompson hubris than that he launched from the top of the key, 28 feet away, with the Warriors trailing 96-89 with 4:57 to play. Swish. “That was the only one all night that I thought, what are you doing?” Kerr conceded.
“He has struggled to find a shot this series,” forward Draymond Green said of Thompson. “But that is why he is who he is. Like that shot he hit at the top of the key, he could have missed eight before that. If he thought he was going to shoot it then, he would have shot it regardless. “That is what makes him the shooter that he is. He stays confident, he is always working and it came through for us tonight.”
Thompson did more than his part to get the Warriors to Game 7 Monday night at Oracle Arena. Don’t be surprised if he’s just as aggressive as he was in Game 6, or most every game before.