Klay Thompson finally broke out of his scoring slump, helping the Golden State Warriors snap a six-game losing streak with a 121-115 win over the Houston Rockets on Monday.
How he got there, however, wasn’t a smooth process. Warriors coach Steve Kerr had to remind him after he got sidetracked by a couple of bad shots, posting up a smaller but stocky guard Fred Van Vleet.
“He made a couple early and then he immediately took two bad shots,” Kerr told reporters after the much-needed win. “So I did not sense it early [he’s going to break out]. I just reminded him: If you’re not open, just move it. Look at these guys on the team who will get you the ball.
Thompson heeded Kerr’s advice. The result was Thompson’s first 20-point game of the season. The struggling Warriors’ wing snapped a string of five games shooting below 42%. He hit 7-of-16 this time and was 5-for-11 from behind the arc.
Leading to this breakout game, the media chatter centered on his struggles — “Klay’s washed, Klay should be benched, Klay should be traded” — on a contract year.
“I’m not restless,” Thompson told reporters after his breakout performance. “I mean, I’m just being myself and I’d have full, full confidence in my ability to have a great season.”
“Although I’ve not shot the ball to my standards, that’s fine. The season is long, you can’t get discouraged. I know that better than anybody. And I try to take Steve’s advice because he’s seen it all. So for me, it’s just about enjoying this run, having fun.”
Thompson had fun as Chris Paul and the Warriors purposely looked for him to get into rhythm early.
Thompson, who wiggled out of VanVleet’s defense using Kevon Looney’s screen. He missed a 3-point attempt from the right wing off a setup from Paul.
But it did not discourage Thompson or the Warriors.Thompson had 12 points in the opening quarter, drilling 3 of 5 3-pointers.
Paul set him up for quality looks. Five of Thompson’s seven field goals in the game came from a Paul assist.
“Analytics is crazy now,” Paul told reporters in bewilderment of that statistic. “I would have never known that. We’re just hooping. I tell Klay all the time, and I played against him for a long time, every time he shoots it, I think it’s going in.”
The Warriors beautiful ball movement resulted in 26 assists and some of their season-high 21 3-pointers.Thompson and Stephen Curry, who led the team with 32 points, combined for 10 3-pointers.
Kerr pointed out one particular play that illustrated how the Warriors should play. And how it did help Thompson get back on the scoring track.
“We had a beautiful possession early on where the ball swung and hit the paint twice,” Kerr said. “It was drive, kick and drive, kick again. That’s the blueprint.
But in order for that to happen, Klay has to get off the ball when he’s not open rather than try to beat his guy one-on-one and take a difficult fadeaway. That’s what we’re trying to focus on.”
That beautiful play led to Thompson’s first basket — a wide-open 3-pointer that put the Warriors on top, 8-6, with 9:41 left in the first quarter.
Thompson’s confidence grew from there.
“Klay was much more patient offensively,” Kerr said. “He took a couple of bad shots early where we have plenty of time on the shot clock and everybody just keeps telling him that if you just move it, you’re gonna get it back with this team. And that’s what happened.”