LOS ANGELES -- Klay Thompson was even quieter than usual through three games of this NBA playoff first-round series against the Clippers. He didn’t say much because he rarely does. And while he played commendable defense, his offense barely whispered.
Which means his personal timer was ticking hard and fast toward detonation.
It came Sunday afternoon. With Stephen Curry struggling to generate offense, Thompson filled the breach and pushed the Warriors within one win of advancing to the second round by delivering a game loud enough to rattle the walls of Staples Center.
The Warriors’ 113-105 victory in Game 4, giving them a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, was manufactured with two parts ferocious late defense -- Draymond Green will be sore Monday -- two parts Kevin Durant’s terrific all-around game and two parts Thompson coming in from the cold to shoot holes through the LA defense.
Averaging 13.7 points on 44.4 percent shooting over the first three games, Thompson made his first seven shots and went on to score 27 points in the first half and 32 on 60 percent shooting (12 of 20) over 40 minutes.
What changed? We’ll allow Thompson, in his own unique way, attempt an explanation.
“I didn’t think I had bad games,” he began. “But I didn’t have any big games. I told Jonas [Jerebko] yesterday when we went to the beach to play some volleyball, like, ‘Yo, I’m just going to jump in the ocean. I know that will reset my mind.’ And it worked.”
If Thompson wants to give the Pacific Ocean credit for finding his shot, he’s allowed.
“The Pacific Ocean is undefeated,” said Curry, who finished with 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting.
More likely, though, the law of averages led to Thompson’s production. Because he was coming off three low-voltage scoring performances, there was the sense that a breakout game was coming, and soon. That has been the pattern for much of his eight-year career, riding with his teammates for a spell and then suddenly jumping over and grabbing the wheel.
That happened in the first quarter Sunday, when Thompson scored 17 points in the first 11 minutes. His coaches and teammates knew what was coming because they’ve seen it before.
“When Klay gets going like that, it fuels the whole bench,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “You can see everybody jumping around. Everybody gets happy. We all love when Klay gets hot. It fuels our momentum. It didn't surprise me at all. He kind of had a quiet first few games of the series, so it was only a matter of time until he broke out.”
Said Thompson: “I definitely feel it, and I've been in that position, too, on the bench. When you see Steph or KD go off, it's the same thing. But it feels good to get your teammates up. That's what you play for. You do it together, and I can definitely feel it when I've got it going.”
For as great a shooter as Curry is -- probably the best ever -- his best moments are no more incredible than Thompson’s insane hot streaks. That’s why he holds records for most points in a quarter (37), and most 3-pointers in a game (14). It’s why he’s the only player in the NBA's shot-clock era, which began in 1954, to score 60 points in fewer than 30 minutes.
The 11 triples Thompson drained in Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals also is a record.
Thompson made 10 of 12 shots from the field, including 5 of 6 from beyond the arc, in the first half before cooling in the second half when Durant, who scored a game-high 33 points, carried the Warriors home.
“They both had big nights shooting the ball, and both were very engaged defensively as well,” Kerr said. “Both of them were fantastic.”
[RELATED: Watch Klay's hilarious interview after Warriors' Game 4 win]
Between the Thompson/Durant scoring duo and the defense the Warriors played down the stretch -- holding LA to one field goal during a stretch of six minutes and 20 seconds in the fourth quarter -- the Warriors left town in position to close out the series Wednesday night at Oracle Arena.
Somebody had to get it started, though, and that was Thompson and his beachside partner.
“He got his feet wet yesterday, walked in the hotel with a wet T-shirt, with his shades on. A typical Klay type of vibe," Curry said. "I just had a smile on my face when I saw him because I knew what that meant."