What else can you say after an increasingly absurd start to the season for newly minted max man Klay Thompson? It didn't just start in the regular season, of course. There was the Kevin Love thing. Then the FIBA tournament where the showering of unadulterated love from accomplished coaches all over the world nauseated even the largest Warriors fans. It peaked - perhaps the wrong word here as things can still get better - when Thompson blew by Steve Blake for the 50th time and set fire to Robin Lopez's hair while dunking all over his soul. Klay Thompson. Poster dunk.
Lots of Klay Thompson talk but the Warriors defense should be the story allowing 87.5 pts per 100 possessions in 1st 3 games— David Locke (@Lockedonsports) November 3, 2014
As for the game itself, the Golden State Warriors were visibly tired in the second half, with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson front-rimming a couple threes and even three consecutive ones in back-to-back possessions. The turning point came when Steve Kerr pulled his best two guards and inserted a lineup that completely shut down the Portland Trail Blazers offense. With about three minutes left in the third quarter the game was tied. The Warriors were down just one when Curry and Thompson returned with a little over five minutes left in the fourth. How did it happen?
Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala are insanely long and quick defenders. Nicolas Batum only got off seven shots and made just two. Nobody else on the Blazers shot over 50 percent from the field other than LaMarcus Aldridge who put together a hot streak to end the game. Andrew Bogut fell victim to Jordan HIll's midrange jumper last night but absolutely housed the paint against the likes of Robin Lopez and Damian Lillard. Lillard was visibly shooting off-balance and increasingly less interested going inside as the game wore on.
As for the offense, Kerr's staff is still searching for answers outside of the Splash Brothers. In the stretch without the two, they relied heavily on post-ups of Livingston - who showed his rust - and a strong dose of Leandro Barbosa penetrating seemingly at will.
The Warriors got just enough scoring from their bench and a consistent lockdown defense to grab a late 95-90 victory at Moda Center. We can all thank Steve Blake's ass.
(The ball went off his left cheek after a Wesley Matthews turnover when the Blazers were up one with 16 seconds left in the game).
1. With a minute left in the game and the Warriors down 2, Stephen Curry handled the ball down the right side with just him and Robin Lopez running backwards in his view. A straight drive might garner a foul and two free throws for Curry are as automatic as watching Harrison Barnes dribbling aimlessly around the perimeter once a game. Instead, he flicked the ball to the left corner, with a Thompson sitting wide open. The shot didn't go in but it reminded of LeBron James' process-over-result style. A contested layup in transition for a subpar finisher versus a wide-open knockdown shooter? We'll take the latter every time. And so did Curry.
Curry also nailed a one-legged jumper from a sideways angle. The guy is insane.
2. The Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson lineup is the Warriors best. Steve Kerr acknowledges when he finishes with that group at the end of halves and games. It worked again tonight when Green forced a steal over-playing LaMarcus Aldridge. It will be interesting, however, to see what happens when David Lee returns. Does it take away from Harrison Barnes, the starter? Or Green, the guy who's had to overplay everyone at an exponential rate to simply grab some minutes?
3. If there's a playoff series with these two teams, it'll be interesting to see how Kerr scrambles his matchups with LMA. He mixed Green up a bit near the end but they were tough fadeaways . Look, he's great at them but not actually sensationally more efficient from that area than a normal solid midrange shooter. The threat of him opens up shooters like Batum, Lillard and Matthews which greases up the entire Portland offense. I've just give him the tough jumpers over Green but it's a tough decision nonetheless.
4. The last play was not an isolation. I repeat, the game-winning shot by Klay Thompson was not an isolation. Curry got the ball and stationed himself on the left above-the-break three-point line. He waited as Thompson sprinted from across the court through a couple baseline screens. Without hesitation, he caught and drove to his right, finishing a tough, but close, floater at the rim. There was no time for a double from Portland and it was an excellent use of Klay's shooting prowess to keep the defender stuck to the ground and unable to chase him on the drive.
Also, that dunk.