- Warriors vs. Spurs: Series Hub
SAN ANTONIO – First it was Stephen Curry practically setting fire to the AT&T Center in Game 1 with his 44 points. Then along came Klay Thompson with his 34 in Game 2.
“I thought it was polite of them to at least take turns and not both be on fire on the same night,” cracked San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
Good one-liner, but a real problem for San Antonio. As the series shifts to Oakland for the next two games, it seems the Spurs are either a defender short or woefully lacking enough firepower to keep up with the Golden State Warriors’ back court.
“I was just trying to do my best to keep up with Steph,” Thompson said. “I’ve seen him do it enough times, so I thought I’d try to see if I could keep up.”
He hardly could have anticipated a 29-point first half, setting a franchise record for a playoff game with eight buckets from behind the arc and the first double-double of his career with 14 rebounds. And let’s not forget the physical, smothering defense that he used all night to throw a wet blanket on Tony Parker.
For Thompson, there was only one thing worse than playing a part in the grand collapse of the Warriors in Game 1. That was not playing a part, which was his burden because he had fouled out and had to watch from the bench.
So, while the rest of his teammates tried to put on a happy face and act unfazed by the double-overtime loss, Thompson wore his disappointment as a hair shirt. He let it irritate him, bother him and prod him on.
“It was tough losing Game 1, because I felt like I was barely out there due to foul trouble, even I did play 32 minutes,” Thompson said. “Watching from the bench is one of the hardest things to do. But I learned from it and I think I showed I learned from it.”
The one he was most proud to show his lessons learned to was his father, ex-NBA star Mychal Thompson, who constants tell him to avoid cheap fouls.
“My dad is my biggest critic,” Thompson said. “Every game he tells me to stay out of foul trouble, so I probably gave him a hemorrhage the other night. I thought I did a good job of not making dumb fouls like I did in Game 1 and I just tried to play hard.”
If Thompson had played any harder, he’d have loosened the floorboards in the court. He made every kind of shot from every spot and every angle imaginable and he was a wrecking ball on defense. He not only disrupted Parker as the initiator of the Spurs offense, but also took turns on wing men Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard. Toss in those 14 rebounds and it was enough to make you shake your head.
“Your stat line,” Curry marveled to his buddy, “is amazing.”
It was the kind of prolific game that his team needed to pull the series into a 1-1 tie, the kind of redemptive effort that Thompson needed personally to feel good about himself again and the kind of display that will have the Spurs scrambling for a solution by Game 3.
Curry blowing up one night, Thompson leaving a mushroom cloud the next.
“I have the greatest shooting backcourt that’s ever played the game,” said Warriors coach Mark Jackson. “Call my bluff.”
The Spurs might not know how. That’s their dilemma.