OAKLAND – Klay Thompson sat at the podium and picked apart his game. Talked about his “bad” shots. Said he was satisfied, overall, but still found shortcomings that must be addressed.
“There are still things I can improve on,” the shooting guard said.
Thompson’s game was imperfect, by his own admission, yet there was one element that was practically flawless. He brought energy. He started moving at the opening tip and didn’t stop until he rang up a game-high 34 points as the Warriors knocked off Houston 115-106 Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
His coach, Steve Kerr, was pleased. So were his teammates, including pregame adviser Anderson Varejao.
“Andy Varejao told me before the game just be myself, not to force anything, we've got a deep team,” Thompson said. “Steve before the game too told me to channel my inner Reggie Miller and move as much as I can without the ball.
“I thought I did a good job of that tonight and that's why I was able to get around a lot. I played with great energy on both ends. When I do that, I play with focus, I help this team a lot just by cutting and playing active.”
[INSTANT REPLAY: Curry-less Warriors beat Rockets, go up 2-0]
All of which was necessary to grease a Warriors offense without its transmission. Point guard and leading scorer Stephen Curry, sidelined with a tender right ankle, was watching from the bench in street clothes.
Thompson, the team’s No. 2 scorer, the other half of the team’s “Splash Brothers” duo, started the game with tremendous energy, maybe too much, as he missed four of his first six shots. He found his rhythm in the second quarter and the Rockets never slowed him down.
“When he's moving around like he was moving around, that's when it's tough to guard him,” Draymond Green said of Thompson. “He did that for us tonight, and he got to the hole a lot and stayed aggressive for us.”
What was most notable about Thompson’s game was the amount of times he got to the free-throw line: 16. He made a career-high shots from the line.
“That's eight times we can get our defense set up,” Kerr pointed out. “We're not a high-volume, free-throw shooting team, normally. We don't get to the line that often. But in a game like this, it's important to do so, to get your defense set up and keep (the Rockets) out of transition. Klay was fantastic tonight and came up big.”
Just barely, it seems, big enough for Thompson to please himself.