OAKLAND -- After saying Wednesday morning that he’s dedicating the remainder of the season to the relatives he has lost, most recently his maternal grandfather, Klay Thompson went out a few hours later and made his family proud.
He also celebrated his 27th birthday in style, scoring a game-high 28 points in 29 minutes in a 123-92 lashing of the Chicago Bulls Wednesday night at Oracle Arena.
“It felt like my birthday,” Thompson said. “People showed a lot of love, sending me text messages and phone calls. I’m just happy we got a win. I was 0-2 on my birthday in my NBA career . . . third time’s the charm, I guess.”
Thompson’s grandfather had been ailing in recent weeks; Thompson and his brother Trayce, knowing he was gravely ill, visited Vancouver, Wash., three weeks ago.
Thompson went back to the Pacific Northwest on Sunday to attend the celebration of his grandfather’s life. He missed Warriors practices on Monday and Tuesday, and returned in time to attend shootaround Wednesday morning.
Never was there a question whether he was going to play.
“It was a tough time, obviously, and it still is,” he said. “It hasn’t really sunk in. But it was really nice to get out there tonight, because my family loves to watch me play and it gives them a lot of pride to see me out on the court. It’s a great way to honor them.”
Thompson made 10-of-18 shots, including 6-of-9 from beyond the arc. He added six rebounds and three assists. He scored 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting after halftime.
“Klay was tremendous in the second half,” coach Steve Kerr said, “obviously making shots but also engaged defensively and on the glass and just kind of doing a lot of work out there and getting stuff done.”
Given that Thompson had missed two days of practice his high level of focus pleased his teammates.
“I’m sure it was nice for him to get back into the routine of his basketball life,” Stephen Curry said. “It’s obviously important to be there for his family and take care of what he needed to take care of to support them and himself.
“Basketball is like that oasis out there for everybody, to just go play and enjoy what you do. That could’ve been a nice distraction for him just to get back to work and do what he does.”
Thompson said he had a close relationship with his grandfather, who was a frequent presence at his games during his youth. Indeed, when Thompson visited last month, his grandfather, speaking from his hospital bed, urged him to get back to basketball.
“I think about him all the time,” Thompson said. “He was a proud man, especially with me and my brothers and all my cousins. I know he’s upstairs watching me. And he’s proud of me. He was a great man and I’ll miss him dearly.”