Instant Replay: Klay catches fire, Warriors surge past Kings in second half

Instant Replay: Klay catches fire, Warriors surge past Kings in second half


Golden State eased into the All-Star break by pretending it had already started, but couldn’t prevent their essential Warrior-ness from eventually emerging, throttling the Sacramento Kings with a building-clearing 109-86 final. It was their 17th victory of 20 or more points, six more than second-place Houston.

Klay Thompson (35/5/4, plus-36 in 31 minutes) snapped the sleep out of the Warriors, who blah-ed their way through a 47-point first half, and sent to New Orleans and various golf and dining establishments with a 47-9 record, while Sacramento dropped a chance to cut the gap between themselves and the playoffs to a half-game.
The game began turgidly enough, with the Warriors taking a 19-9 lead largely on the basis of making eight of their first nine shots before slowly returning most of that lead by missing 15 of their next 20. The early highlight was Stephen Curry’s over-the-right-shoulder block of a Willie Cauley-Stein gimme near the end of the first quarter, but it wasn’t nearly enough to excite a stolid and underinvolved crowd.
The game got no better in the second quarter, but the officiating irked Draymond Green enough to get two technical fouls for protesting a foul call in the final minute before the half. He aired out official Ron Garretson and then reloaded seconds later to get tossed, his ninth and 10th technical of the season.
It didn’t serve as immediate inspiration, but the Warriors’ inability to be uninteresting for an entire game reared its head in the third quarter. Their defense held Sacramento to 5-for-23 shooting and forced six turnovers, while offensively they scored 42 points (12 assists on 14 baskets), allowing Steve Kerr to clear the bench in the final eight minutes of mock. DeMarcus Cousins, the king of Kings, was held to a minimal 13 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes.
Thompson, returning from his absence against Denver, hit his first five shots, plus the game-sparking trey 3:37 into the third quarter and guided the Warriors through their soul-searing 42-15 period.
Thompson’s three to give the Warriors a 60-57 lead early in the third became the start of an absurd 22-0 run that took a close but bland game and made it a lopsided and bland game. He was easily the standout performer on a night that begged for them, and reiterated why the Warriors are the Warriors. They front-run like few teams in the history of the game.

Warriors: C Zaza Pachulia (R rotator cuff strain) and F/C David West (L thumb fracture) remained out, but Kerr expected them to be ready after the break.

Kings: F Omri Casspi (R foot tendon tear and R calf muscle strain), F Rudy Gay (L Achilles tendon rupture), G Ty Lawson (L thigh strain) and G Garrett Temple (L hamstring tear) did not play.


Thirty-three percent of the roster goes to New Orleans for the All-Star Game, and then regathers with the rest of the employees for games next Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers and Saturday against Brooklyn at The O. Both are 7:30 starts.

Many reasons why Klay Thompson wants to play for Warriors his entire career

Many reasons why Klay Thompson wants to play for Warriors his entire career

Don’t fall for the stories implying the Warriors, because they are so collaborative, are a team comprising individuals without ego. It’s an oft-implied crock, a myth that fits a particular and happy narrative.

So please dismiss the notion that Klay Thompson is without ego. If he were, he would not be a four-time All-Star. And he surely would not be so swaggeringly confident that every jump shot he takes, no matter the conditions or whether he has missed nine in a row, is destined to drop through the net.

Thompson, 28, has a keen awareness of his interests, and being individually celebrated for basketball is nowhere near the top of his list. Despite the bon vivant lifestyle conveyed through social media, his hoops motto is not “look at me” but “look at us.”

So when Thompson becomes a free agent next July -- unless he agrees to a prior extension -- he isn’t the type to shop himself with designs on being “that dude.” Those emotionally attached to the Warriors can take comfort when Thompson says, as he did a few days ago, that he wants to be a Warrior “for life.”

Thompson’s father, Mychal, whose NBA career lasted 13 years, took it step further.

“You can mark it down,” Mychal Thompson said over the weekend.

This is in accord with what I was told in a conversation with Mychal last month. In multiple chats over the past year, he has been firm in his belief that his son would re-sign with the Warriors.

It’s in line with what Klay told NBC Sports Bay Area last Sept. 29, saying he wanted to be a part of a group that could “be known as one of the greatest teams of our era.”

As Thompson’s incumbent team, the Warriors have the advantage. They can pay him more than any other team might offer. And he is amenable to taking a discounted contract -- though discounted only so much.

The Warriors have given every indication they understand Thompson’s value, which goes beyond the tangible. He has played for two NBA coaches, Mark Jackson and Steve Kerr, both of whom concluded Thompson requires zero maintenance. That attribute, folks, is rare and precious.

Growing up the middle son in a NBA household, Klay was taught to appreciate collective success. When he says he doesn’t take the prosperity of the Warriors for granted, as he often does, he means it.

Growing up between two athletic brothers, Mychel and Trayce, Klay learned teamwork in a very real sense. Julie Thompson is more reticent than her husband Mychal -- as is 99 percent of the world’s population -- but is, above all, a voice of reason. When she speaks, the family listens.

Since being drafted in 2011, Thompson has made six trips to the playoffs in seven seasons, missing only as a rookie.  Of those six consecutive playoff appearances, the last four have landed the Warriors in the NBA Finals, with three championships to show for it. He has been the physical backbone of the squad, missing the fewest games and excelling on both offense and defense.

Thompson has had, by any measure, a charmed career. He knows this would not be true if not for the contributions of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Andre Igoudala, Shaun Livingston and a couple dozen others who wore the same jersey.

So when it’s time to put a name in big, bold letters atop the marquee, Klay would be the last Warrior to care. He doesn’t want it, partly because he doesn’t like it but mostly such trivialities give him no gratification.

Nah, he’d rather ride this wave for as long as it’s going.

Mychal Thompson wants Klay to emulate James Harden in one aspect in 2018-19

Mychal Thompson wants Klay to emulate James Harden in one aspect in 2018-19

Klay Thompson is a well-rounded, versatile player. He shot 52.6 percent from 2-point range last season. He shot 44 percent from 3-point range. He made 83.7 percent of his free throws. He averaged 2.5 assists per game. He's the Warriors' best perimeter defender.

There's not a noticeable weakness to his game.

But his father Mychal spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle's Scott Ostler on Saturday to talk about what kind of differences we'll see in Klay will be during the 2018-19 season and he shared the goal he's set for his son.

"I think you'll see a hungrier player. He's going to try to get more versatile, try to get to the basket a little more, more free throws, being more efficient on offense that way. I always tell him, try to make it a goal to shoot eight (free throws) a game. Eight or 10, like James Harden does," Mychal Thompson told Ostler.

Thompson attempted a career low 1.3 free throw attempts last season. His high-water mark was 3.3 free throw attempts per game during the 2014-15 season. By comparison, Harden attempted 10.1 free throw attempts last season and has surpassed 10 attempts per game in five of the last six seasons.

Of course, the elder Thompson was asked about his son's free agency next summer. Klay told the Bay Area News Group on Saturday that he wants to remain with the Warriors for the rest of his career. His father said the same thing at the Thompson Family Foundation's charity golf tournament on Saturday.

“Oh yeah, you can mark it down. Klay’s going to retire in the Warriors’ uniform. He’s going to play at Chase Center (the Warriors’ new arena, opening in 2019), and he’s not going to be at Chase Center as a visiting player, he’s going to be a Warrior for the next seven or eight years," Mychal said according to The Chronicle.