Warriors

Warriors' Klay Thompson looks back at epic free throws after ACL tear

Warriors' Klay Thompson looks back at epic free throws after ACL tear

It's one of the biggest "what ifs" in recent NBA history. It also created a moment Warriors fans will never forget. 

While Golden State fans wish they could forget the fall that caused Klay Thompson to tear his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, his two free throws after the injury forever will be nothing short of epic. Though the star shooting guard was writhing in pain on the floor, Thompson believed he could eventually re-enter the game.

"I just remember walking off and telling Steve [Kerr], 'I'm just gonna go in the back and hopefully it'll loosen up,'" Thompson during his current trip in China. 

The power of adrenaline can only take you so far, though. Thompson walked towards the locker room and was even seen jumping and running down the hallway. 

That, however, didn't last too long. 

"Once I went back there and didn't feel the energy of the crowd or see my teammates or feel that ball in my hands, the adrenaline wears off," Thompson said. "I just realized I did something pretty significant, and although it happened, I can wholeheartedly say that I left my heart out there on the court and tried my hardest.

"Sometimes you come up short in sports." 

Before hitting the hardware on a missed dunk attempt, Thompson scored 30 points in 32 minutes. There was 2:22 left in the third quarter at the time of Thompson's injury, and the Warriors led 83-80. He made both of his free throws with a torn ACL, pushing the Warriors' lead to five. 

[RELATED: 'China Klay' is back as Warriors icon lands in Shanghai]

The rest is history. 

Would the Warriors have won if Klay didn't get hurt? What would have happened in a Game 7? We'll never know, but Thompson will always have two of the most memorable free throws in NBA history to his name.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in emotional 115-104 loss to 76ers

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in emotional 115-104 loss to 76ers

BOX SCORE

Perhaps inspired by the memory of Kobe Bryant, the Warriors played with fire and fury Tuesday night in his hometown.

It wasn’t quite enough to take down the contending 76ers at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

After trailing by as much as eight, the Sixers opened the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run and wound up slapping a 115-104 defeat on the Warriors.

Despite four players scoring in double figures, led by D’Angelo Russell’s game-high 28 points, and a near triple-double from Draymond Green, the Warriors (10-38) fell for the 14th time in 15 games.

The 76ers (31-17) pushed their home record to an NBA-best 22-2.

Draymond brought it

There have been a few occasions this season when Green, who has coped with an assortment of aches and injuries, was unable to summon his typical energy and production.

This was not one of them.

In 10 first-quarter minutes, Draymond tracked down six rebounds and recorded three assists. He totaled nine points, 12 assists and nine rebounds -- just short of his third triple-double this season -- and also added three blocks and one steal.

It was, effectively and statistically, his strongest game in four weeks.

As someone who had a strong relationship with Bryant, there is no doubt that he wanted to make his mentor proud. He succeeded.

Failures of the bench

Their last game coming last Friday, the Warriors were coming off their longest inactive stint of the season. The starters appeared rejuvenated. The reserves did not.

With the Warriors bench scoring 26 points on 9-of-28 shooting, Philadelphia posted an 11-point advantage in bench scoring.

The individual numbers were, um, ghastly.

Alec Burks, the team’s most reliable bench player, scored 11 points but finished minus-31. Eric Paschall, returning to the city where he played college ball (Villanova), was restricted to 10 minutes because he was whistled for five fouls. He finished minus-12. Backup center and occasional power forward Omari Spellman, another Villanova product, had five points on 2-of-7 shooting and finished minus-20. Rookie guard Jordan Poole shot 1-of-5 over 15 minutes and ended the game minus-12.

Meanwhile, Philly backup point guard Raul Neto scored 19 points in 21 minutes.

A night for the bench to forget.

The Kobe moment

In a prearranged agreement, each team opened the game by taking a turnover as a nod to the late Kobe Bryant.

The 76ers won the opening tip, with center Joel Embiid tapping the ball to guard Ben Simmons, who placed the ball on the floor until eight seconds ticked off. A backcourt violation was whistled, with the turnover giving the ball to the Warriors.

It’s probably the first time in the long history of Philadelphia basketball that the home crowd responded to a Sixers' turnover with a standing ovation.

Russell inbounded in the frontcourt to Green, who immediately placed the ball at his feet. For the next 24 seconds, all 10 players stood silently, each man with his thoughts.

[RELATED: Embiid wears No. 24 as 76ers, Warriors pay tribute to Kobe]

The Warriors took a 24-second possession violation, giving the ball back to the 76ers.

It is safe to presume neither team has any regrets.

Warriors, 76ers collaborate to honor Philadelphia native Kobe Bryant

Warriors, 76ers collaborate to honor Philadelphia native Kobe Bryant

Joel Embiid on Tuesday night played while wearing the No. 24 on his jersey instead of his customary 21.

His 76ers teammates wore one of two numbers during pregame warmups. Some wore 24, others wore 8.

The Warriors, every last one of them, wore black. The weight of the moment was etched on the face of rookie guard Jordan Poole.

This was the power and influence of Kobe Bryant, whose death on Sunday is being absorbed ever so slowly by the NBA fraternity and many outside the sport.

Temporarily defying the rules and purpose of competition, the Warriors and 76ers began the game in Philadelphia -- where Kobe was born and attended high school -- by allowing themselves to reflect on something bigger than basketball.

[RELATED: Draymond, Kerr having trouble processing Kobe's death]

They spent the first 35 seconds of the game focused solely on Kobe’s life and death. Embiid won the opening tip, directing the ball to Ben Simmons, who promptly placed it on the floor, where it sat for the next eight seconds. The crowd inside Wells Fargo Arena stood and cheered, after which an eight-second backcourt violation was assessed, the turnover giving the ball to the Warriors.

D’Angelo Russell inbounded to Draymond Green, who followed Simmons’ example by placing the ball on the floor. The Warriors took a 24-second possession violation, giving the ball back to the Sixers.

The first dribble was not taken until 11: 25 remained in the first quarter, the first shot coming 22 seconds later.

This all came after a pregame ceremony to honor Bryant. His Lower Merion High School No. 33 jersey, white with maroon trim, was spotlighted, along with eight more spotlights signifying the other victims that perished in the helicopter crash Sunday in Southern California. The names of all nine, including Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, were in lights on the message board.

It was another example of the vibe permeating the NBA since the tragedy.