OAKLAND -- Acutely aware of Klay Thompson’s recent struggles with his shot but with no desire to join the stream of Warriors coaches and teammates encouraging the All-Star guard to keep firing, general manager Bob Myers offered a different message.
“I told him to have fun,” Myers said Sunday night, after Thompson played a key role in the Warriors taking a 132-113 win over the Cavaliers in Game 2 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena.
Thompson rediscovered his stroke, scoring 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-7 beyond the arc. It was only the second time in 14 postseason games that he shot higher than 50 percent, and the only time he was above 60 percent.
Thompson also grabbed seven rebounds and played typically stellar defense, but it was the sight of the ball dropping through the net that delighted the Warriors and made for a warm welcome back for coach Steve Kerr.
“I just felt like he was poised to come out and make some shots tonight, and he did,” said Kerr, who returned to the bench after a six-week absence. “And his defense again was tremendous. He guards so many people out there and he has such a responsibility with Kyrie (Irving) and switching onto LeBron (James), and I thought he was fantastic.”
Thompson missed his first shot, a 3-point attempt, but made the next three, a short jumper, a layup and a free throw -- all in a 19-second span in the first quarter.
“It did feel good to see the ball go in,” he conceded. “More importantly, it felt good to get the win. I think tonight I was just in a good rhythm. It started with getting to the basket early and taking good shots. If I do that, it’ll all even out.”
Thompson entered the game shooting 36.6 percent, the lowest figured among any Warriors player averaging more than 10 minutes a game. That has made him a popular topic of debate throughout the playoffs.
Thompson insisted he didn’t need to change much regarding his approach, and his teammates and coaches consistently expressed little concern, pointing to his general contributions to the team’s perfect postseason.
“We're never worried about him and his shooting or anything and spotlight that's on that,” Stephen Curry said. “He does so much for us on the defensive end, his presence just on the floor as a threat to shoot even if he doesn't get an attempt up.
“But definitely when he’s making shots, and a lot of timely shots tonight, they were huge. I know he didn't lose confidence in himself, at all, and knew he was helping us win, even though he wasn't shooting the ball well.”
Thompson’s defense has been a key throughout, and his primary assignment in The Finals has been Cavs star Kyrie Irving, who is shooting 40 percent (18-of-45) through the first two games.
It is Thompson’s shooting, though, that provides a different dimension to the Warriors on offense. He gives them a third sharpshooter, and the Cavaliers are short on solid defensive counter options.
He appeared to be enjoying himself.
“Everybody else was telling him to keep shooting,” Myers said. “I figured I’d leave that alone. I said, ‘Have fun.’ It’s supposed to be fun. We all need to tell ourselves that. Yes, it’s intense. Yes, it’s hard, strenuous, challenging. But there should be some part of it that you can use those three letters and have fun.
“I have no idea if that mattered or not, but I didn’t want to say the same thing everybody else was saying.”