Warriors

Down 0-2, Jazz leave Oakland 'encouraged, more determined'

Down 0-2, Jazz leave Oakland 'encouraged, more determined'

OAKLAND -- The Utah Jazz are grasping at straws. After another tough defeat at the hands of the high-powered Golden State Warriors, the series shifts to Utah for Game 3 and it’s back to the drawing board for Quin Snyder and his staff.

“You’re encouraged about some of the things you did,” Snyder said of whether his team should be encouraged or discouraged heading back home 0-2. “I wouldn’t use the word discouraged as much as we need to be more determined to play better other aspects of the game”

Snyder had to lead his team into battle without his starting point guard George Hill, who missed the contest with a toe injury. With Hill ailing, reserve guard Shelvin Mack picked up the start and posted a solid game for Utah. Mack shot 4-for-11 from the field on his way to 14 points and four assist in the loss.

“He was aggressive, he competed, you could see the effort and the intensity,” Snyder said. “That’s all you want is a guy to go out and leave it out there and compete and that’s what he did.”

After a quiet Game 1, Gordon Hayward came to play. Hayward finished the opener with just 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting, but he looked like a completely different player in Game 2.

The All-Star wing went off late, scoring 21 of his 33 points in the second half. He shot 11-of-21 from the field, including three makes from behind the 3-point stripe and he managed to add four assists and grab five rebounds.

Utah has yet to take a lead in either of the first two games. They trailed 33-15 at the end of the first quarter and spent the next 36 minutes trying to dig out of the hole.

“After we got blitzed there in the first quarter, once we settled in, we kind of figured it out a little bit,” Hayward said. “We figured out how to get it into the paint and get some shots for ourselves - some better looks. Our spacing was a lot better and we’re going to have to try and take that and move forward with it.”

Like Hayward, big man Rudy Gobert had a tough first game against Golden State. Known for his ability to block shots, Gobert has had to adjust to playing against a myriad of different looks from the Warriors.

The 7-foot-1 center aggressively attacked the Warriors on the offensive end, scoring 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting. He added 16 rebounds, but failed to block a shot in his 37 minutes on the court.

“First of all, I’m feeling better physically,” Gobert said. “I had a few injuries last series, but I’m just feeling better and you kind of get used to playing these guys and their physicality. So every game we try and get better and I feel like I’m feeling better every game.”

Following the Warriors win, the series shifts to Utah where the Jazz will host Game 3 on Saturday and Game 4 on Monday with the hopes to staving off elimination.

“Definitely excited to play in front of our fans, I know they’ll be excited to have us and we’re going to need them,” Hayward said. “They’ll be really important for us. They always bring us a lot of energy and it will be fun playing in front of our fans.”

The Jazz haven’t been home in a while after finishing their series on the road on Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers. They’ll need to take at least one game in Utah if they hope to get back to Oracle Arena for a Game 5 late next week.

Klay Thompson: 'I never thought I’d be on billboards and posters in China'

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AP

Klay Thompson: 'I never thought I’d be on billboards and posters in China'

OAKLAND — Klay Thompson danced unabashedly in China after winning another NBA championship, and it got shared all over social media. He smoked a stogie on the rooftop, letting loose to reveal another side of himself.

“I didn’t plan for that video to go viral,” Thompson said matter-of-factly. “I was just having fun. I’ve always been myself and having fun while doing it and learning to enjoy every day, because it goes by so fast.”

Coming to that mindset, however, has been a process for the seventh-year Golden State guard, who acknowledges for so long he put extreme pressure on himself to be the best.

The quiet, more under-the-radar Warriors All-Star of the bunch, Thompson has provided a steadying hand early on for the reigning NBA champions who are favored to capture a third title in four years.

“I used to stress a lot more at the beginning of my career about my performance,” Thompson recalled. “Now, it’s not like I don’t stress, but I play more carefree and I’m more able, if I play as hard as I can I’m satisfied with the results. ... I used to compare myself with all players and want to be the best so badly, but now it’s all about winning and having fun and realizing basketball is more of a team sport than anything.”

After a recent practice, Thompson dazzled right alongside a couple of visiting Harlem Globetrotters, spinning the ball on his finger, rolling it up and down his arms, off his knee and then a foot soccer-style before swishing a short jumper.

“I should’ve been a Globetrotter!” he yelled.

It’s a new look for this hang-loose, beach-loving Splash Brother.

The approach is working for the Warriors.

“He still carries the threat. You have to honor him,” Orlando coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s great at making the right play. Their whole team is. I think he’s trying to fit in with their whole buy-in that ball movement and passing is greater than any one man carrying the bulk of it.”

Still, his numbers are stellar. Thompson has had a fast start this season, which previously hasn’t been the case.

Thompson credits the familiarity with teammates and a comfort in coach Steve Kerr’s offense.

“He’s taken another step in his game. Just the experience that he’s had in his career, every year he’s gotten better and I think this year he’s shown how at the end of the season he carried it over to the beginning of this year,” backcourt mate Stephen Curry said. “Historically he hadn’t started seasons well but this year he’s locked in. He’s obviously shooting the ball well and playing great defense, but I think the biggest thing is his playmaking in situations where he’s drawing a crowd. He’s making great decisions setting guys up and just playing under control for the most part this entire season.”

Life off the court is great for Thompson, too, and that helps him be stress-free on it.

Look closely, and it’s easy to see he has come out of his shell.

On a day off last week, he golfed a popular public course close to Oracle Arena. Thompson signed someone’s toaster last spring, and it became a superstition.

In July, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at an Oakland Athletics game, then drove an IndyCar in September while serving as Grand Marshal of a series stop in Sonoma.

Thompson shares his training tricks on social media and posts photos with his bulldog, Rocco.

He recently donated $75,000 to relief efforts in the aftermath of the devastating Northern California wildfires, committing $1,000 per point for a three-game stretch during which he scored 69 points — but added to that total.

He is a spokesman for chocolate milk and an obscure — in the U.S. anyway — Chinese shoe company. He signed an $80 million, 10-year extension to wear the sneakers.

“Life’s good,” Thompson said. “I never thought I’d get paid millions of dollars to wear shoes and apparel. I’m very proud to be a part of Anta. ... It’s so cool that I’m big in China. I never thought I’d be on billboards and posters in China.”

Thompson has found a balance during the offseason to stay sharp, mixing up his workouts with outdoor activities he enjoys.

“It took years for me to figure out how to prepare the best I can for the season. I finally learned in my sixth year,” he said. “You’ve got to stay in shape almost year-round because as you get older it’s harder to get back into shape. It’s easier to get out of shape than it is to get back into shape. I do other things besides basketball to stay in shape in the offseason. I think that just keeps my mind fresh.”

He hopes to do a formal swim from Alcatraz, or even a triathlon. He swims in the ocean — “my favorite place in the world” — whenever he can. Freestyle is his strength, butterfly not so much. He plays hours of beach volleyball or just throws the football around and runs routes through the sand.

At work, he has been a model of consistency. Thompson is determined to be a better passer, creating for teammates whenever possible. He also usually guards the opponent’s top perimeter scorer.

Thompson is off to his best shooting season ever, with career highs of 49.4 percent shooting from the field and 45.6 percent on 3-pointers.

“I think his playmaking has been the best it’s been in his career,” Kerr said. “He’s really doing a good job of putting the ball on the floor and moving it on, drive and kick game, finding the centers in the pocket for little floaters. ... It’s been his best passing season so far.”

Thompson used to get teased for his lack of assists, and it remains a running joke.

“I got thick skin,” Thompson quipped, “honestly I don’t really care.”

That carefree approach has taken time, and the Warriors are better for it.

Former Cal Bear Jaylen Brown holds heavy heart in win over Warriors

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USATSI

Former Cal Bear Jaylen Brown holds heavy heart in win over Warriors

BOSTON – The NBA is an emotional game, but the feelings Jaylen Brown was working through on the eve of Thursday’s game against Golden State, are the kind you don’t wish anyone with the death of his best friend less than 24 hours before Thursday night’s tip-off.

Brown channeled his pain into a performance that was absolutely vital to Boston pulling off the biggest upset for them this season, a 92-88 win over the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

He led the Celtics with a team-high 22 points in the win which extended the Celtics’ winning streak to 14 straight. 

But he was in no mood to celebrate afterwards.

“My best friend (Trevin Steede) passed last night,” Brown said after the game. “It was tough to accept it. Everybody was kind of in shock. I knew coming in today, he would want me to play.

Brown paused, and added, “It’s hard to get my thoughts together. After talking to his mom and family, they inspired me to come out. I wasn’t in any shape to come out. I didn’t want to leave my room. They inspired me to come out and play and I came out and played in his spirit today.”

READ MORE AT NBCSportsBoston.com