Klay Thompson scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, including a turnaround baseline jumper from 12 feet away to give the Golden State Warriors a 98-96 win over the Indiana Pacers. Now the Warriors have road wins over the the two best teams in the Eastern Conference, which also happen to be the teams with the two best records in the NBA.
“To hit that shot, I’m not going to lie, it felt great to prove to people I could make that shot and I wanted that shot,” said Thompson, who finished with a team-high 25 points.
The Warriors had a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter, but the Pacers cranked their defensive dial up to 11 and the Warriors responded with little to no ball movement. Thompson was hot throughout most of the final quarter, but hadn’t taken a shot since missing a 13-foot jumper with 4:35 remaining … on an isolation against George Hill. It was pretty amazing that Golden State won on a dreaded iso, a play Mark Jackson wanted because Paul George was smothering Stephen Curry.
“The possession earlier when I posted up, I settled. I knew I could just use my body weight and fade from (Hill),” Thompson said when describing the game-winner, which he said was either his first or second ever. “I was planning that shot the whole time, honestly.”
Thompson was the game’s star, but the Warriors also got huge contributions from their reserves. Golden State’s bench outscored Indiana’s by a large margin (34-11), with both Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green scoring 10 points each. They played so well, Jackson had a difficult time getting his starters back on the floor in the fourth quarter.
“Those are the toughest decisions. I even remember sitting there as a player, waiting for my coach to go back to me,” Jackson said. “But I thought those guys earned the right to win or lose the ballgame. I tried to tinker a little bit and obviously get Steph back in there, but the bench obviously did a great job in this ballgame. Scoring, playing with force. Draymond was spectacular, Steve (Blake) with six assists. He’s done a great job of taking of the basketball, facilitating, getting us into stuff.”
Curry got a ridiculous amount of defensive attention from the best defensive team in the league, but that’s no excuse for the way he struggled in crunch time. He looked exhausted at the end of the loss in Toronto, where he played 43 minutes. He came out firing early in this game, and Jackson did a much better job of getting Curry some rest in tonight’s win.
Curry ended up with 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes, but he also went 7-for-18 from the floor and all four of his turnovers came at the worst possible times. There was the time he lost the ball before the end of the first half, a play that led to a dunk for George. He turned it over three times in the last 4:16 of the game, including once where he stepped out of bounds. Luckily, the rest of the squad had Curry’s back.
“We can’t put everything on Steph’s shoulders. He already does so much for this team. We’ve got to give him a break sometimes. He’s our engine that makes us go. We’ve got to help him out as much as we can,” said Thompson.
— Talk about consistency: the Warriors scored 25 points in the first, third and fourth quarters. They were slightly off in the second quarter, when they scored 23.
— George was unstoppable early and scored nine points in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors kept him quiet throughout the middle of the game. He had 26 points and 12 rebounds, but he went 8-for-23 from the floor. Jackson praised Thompson’s defense against George and Lance Stephenson, but don’t sleep on Andre Iguodala, a guy with a fairly high pain threshold.
— Iguodala suffered a dislocated finger in the second half. With a grimace on his face he ran to the locker room, where one would assume he popped the finger back in and got it taped. He was back on the floor within a few minutes.
— Maybe the bad finger will help Iguodala on his threes. It couldn’t hurt — after going 0-for-1 from long distance tonight, he’s 4-for-42 (9.5%) on three-pointers over his last 17 games.
— Green came in with a similarly bad shooting slump, going 2-for-24 on threes over his previous 19 games. He relocated his touch, going 2-for-4 on threes and 4-for-7 overall. He also had seven rebounds on his 24th birthday.
— Quest for 50 (wins) update: the Warriors are 37-24. They also committed just 10 turnovers.
— Curry wasn’t the only guy who played fewer minutes than usual. Iguodala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut all played around 22 minutes. But Jackson appreciated how the starters comported themselves on the bench.
“I love the energy of even the guys that were not on the court that are used to being on the court at that time. They were engaged and very vocal on the sideline,” said Jackson.
— Bogut had three blocks (should’ve been four, as he was called for a phantom foul on a clean one), but he still doesn’t look like he’s all the way back from the shoulder injury that kept him out seven games.
— “We expect that out of Klay,” said Jermaine O’Neal, who was back after missing the Toronto game due to a passport issue of some sort. “Steph gets a lot of attention, but Klay is one of the best two-guards in the league.”
— Bob Fitzgerald is addicted to plus/minus. He mentioned it repeatedly on his radio show today, and harped on the stat throughout tonight’s game. It’s like someone just explained to him what it means yesterday.
— Jordan Crawford made a few shots, but it’s pretty obvious that his defense and decision-making frustrate the hell out of Jim Barnett.
— This was the first DNP — Coach’s Decision of the season for Marreese Speights. When I posted that little tidbit about Speights on Twitter, @RobertEap made a good point: Jackson probably wanted to drop a DNP-CD on Speights earlier than he did. The Knicks game was a blowout, and Jackson was forced to play Speights against the Raptors since O’Neal was stuck in the states.
— One last quote from Klay: “It was fun, especially winning on the road and silencing the crowd.”