Reader’s Note: Beginning January 29, WarriorsWorld is spending two weeks examining the play of Klay Thompson. We first performed this exercise with David Lee. In his second NBA season, Thompson has been the Warriors’ most inconsistent player. You can argue that he hasn’t improved much from his rookie year and has made some of the league’s most boneheaded plays this side of JaVale McGee. But when his shot is on, it’s a thing of beauty. We are providing an unbiased look by watching Klay Thompson, and only Klay Thompson, on both ends of the floor for a stretch of games ending at the All-Star break. This second installment covers the game vs. Dallas on January 31.
Previous Klay Watch Games
By: Jesse Taylor
Warriors 100, Mavericks 97
Now days Mark Cuban wanna talk about a foul on the play
But nothing comes out when he moves his lips just a bunch if gibberish
And in the fourth quarter I bet you all forgot about Klay.
So much of basketball is mental. This was never more obvious than in the fourth quarter watching a red-hot Klay Thompson suddenly go cooler than bein’ cool (ICE COLD!).
His fourth quarter reminded me of an Arcade Hoops game I had in my garage several years ago (it is so sad when the best basketball comparison you can come up for yourself revolves around tiny little basketballs and tiny little rims).
We had the food and alcohol for my father-in-law’s retirement party in my garage next to the Arcade Hoops game. I was out there drinking with all of his low-riding car club Mexican homeboys and my son (5 at the time) was playing his 16-year-old cousin in Arcade Hoops.
His cousin had no mercy, taking a 30-point lead with under two minutes left in the 5-minute game. That’s when my son lost his temper, got pissed off, quit the game and called for help. It was the perfect moment for a shooter. Down big, but it’s not your fault, so you either come back and you’re the hero, or you lose and take no blame. At least, that’s what I thought.
I jumped in. Made a few and missed a few, then I caught fire. I hit 20 shots in a row. The Mexican homeboys started going crazy around my 15th in a row.
I got quite a few Mariachi style high-pitched chants: “Haaaayyyyy, hay, hay, hay, hay!!!”
Some “Pinche Wedo!!”
Then the chant started: “Wedo! Wedo! Wedo!”
I erased the 30-point lead with about 30 seconds to go. I was up four and then it happened. The attention got to me. The pressure to close out the lead was too much to take. I missed five in a row. My homeboy fan club began to doubt me.
“Oh no, he’s lost it.”
“Look how he’s short-arming it homes.”
“Estupido chico blanco.”
The five misses turned into 10 and I didn’t score one single point in the last 30 seconds, blowing the lead and losing the game. The look on my son’s face was the equivalent of him walking over, kicking me in the nuts and storming off.
How do you go from hitting 20 Arcade Hoops shots in a row to missing the rest? It’s all mental. You start thinking too much. You miss one and you forget the correct form on your shot. Your confidence begins to slip and it just gets worse and worse.
This is what happened in the fourth quarter for Klay Thompson. And he wasn’t even buzzed like me.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Klay starts the game with a bad defensive rotation. He’s guarding O.J. Mayo, and then doesn’t switch on a pick-and-roll with Shawn Marion. Marion is wide open because Klay stayed with Mayo and hits the open runner before Bogut can get to him.
Klay curls off a screen to hit his first shot, an 18-footer from wing. Warriors lead 6-4.
Later, he plays solid defense on Mayo, forcing a long jumper that misses. On the next possession, Lee drives and kicks it to Klay for a 3-pointer and a 14-8 Warriors lead with 8:09 left in the first.
Klay’s made his first two shots, so you know a bad shot is coming sooner or later. And here it is. Lee rebounds and kicks it to Klay who pulls up and forces a transition three that’s way off.
He quickly makes up for it on the next possession with a nice back cut that loses Mayo. The always-aware Lee finds him under the basket for a reverse layup from Klay, who uses his body well to shield Mayo at the rim.
He picks up his second foul at the 5:31 mark on a questionable call. Mark Jackson leaves him in.
After hitting the free throws, Mayo comes back later and drills a nice turnaround jumper in Klay’s face. Warriors lead 18-12.
Mayo comes right back at Klay, forcing a foul on a drive (questionable again), Klay’s third, at the 4:34 mark. Jackson has to take him out now. Klay sits with seven first quarter points.
The referees are consistently calling the game tight. Mayo got back-to-back fouls then Vince Carter was called for one. So there was no Warriors or Klay vendetta.
Klay returns at the 9:20 mark of the second with the Warriors up 35-27.
He takes a nice handoff screen from Bogut but misses the 17-footer. But on the next possession, he takes an inbounds pass, dribbles toward the baseline and pulls up for a nice made jumper.
After he misses an open 3-pointer on a drive and kick from Harrison Barnes, Klay plays nice defense on Mayo who, again, hits a tough jumper. This cuts the lead to 40-39 with 6:27 left. Mayo has eight points.
Klay comes right back and uses a back screen from Jarrett Jack to make a cut towards the basket. Lee shows off his passing skills again, finding Klay under the basket and Klay makes the reverse layup.
Klay picks up Boyd Crowder, I mean, Jae Crowder, and plays excellent defense on the mini-me version of Kenneth Faried. Klay gets the ball back in transition and uses a screen from Lee to make a long 2-pointer. 46-41 with 4:40 left in the half. Klay has 13.
Quick observation: Lee and Klay played very well together in this game. Early in the season, I sensed that these two guys were easily annoyed with each other. But with Curry out, they are sharing the ball and setting screens for each other very nicely.
First “Dumb Klay Play” (which was a result of a dumb play by Lee): Lee grabs a defensive rebound, but passes it to the wrong team. Klay sees the bad pass but just walks back from half court rather than hustle. The ball swings to Klay’s man, Mayo, and Mayo hits a wide open three that would have been contested if Klay had hustled back. 48-46.
Really enjoyed this play here with the scored tied at 48. Lee has the ball at the top of the key. Jack screens for Klay, who goes towards the basket. Jack pops out to get the ball from Lee. Klay curls from under the basket and runs in a straight line through the free throw line. There, he goes between screens from both Lee and Landry, who quickly close together once Klay passes through. Klay takes the pass from Jack and drains a three at top of the key as the defenders are stuck behind the wall of Landry and Lee. 51-48 with 2:40 to go in the half. Klay has 16 and he comes out on the next dead ball.
Warriors lead 55-53 at the half.
Klay’s third quarter is fire. With under 11 minutes in the third, he tosses the ball to Lee in the post. Klay fakes going through a screen, then takes ball from Lee and steps back to hit a long two. Great play. Tough shot. 59-55. Klay with 18 points on 8-11 FG.
Now Klay’s feeling like me in my 20-in-a-row Arcade Hoops streak. He hits his patented fading left stop-and-pop baseline jumper. 20 points.
Klay free throw alert. He’s fouled by Collison on a jumper (of course) and shoots/makes his third and fourth free throws in the last four games. He failed to get to the free throw line in two of his previous three games.
At the 5:59 mark, Klay picks up his fourth foul. Jackson likes to play it risky and Klay stays in. He’s too hot to take out.
Coming off a screen on defense, Klay gets smacked in the face, dramatically over-reacts; slowing down and allowing his man Carter to make an open three.
But he follows a dumb play with a good one again. Lee gets doubled in the post and throws it out to Klay beyond the 3-point line. Klay drills it and is fouled by Mayo. Klay misses the free throw and stays at 25 points. 77-68 with 3:29 left in the third.
At the 1:56 mark, Klay makes an extremely tough 18-foot jumper curling off a screen after catching a pass from Jack below his knees. But he brings it up while fading left and gives the Warriors an 80-70 lead. 27 points, the last for Klay.
Dallas ends the third on a 9-0 run. Klay sits with 25.8 left and starts the fourth on the bench.
He returns with 9 minutes left in the game and the Warriors up 92-79 after a 12-0 run. While on the bench, I believe the Mexican low-rider car club guys were chanting at him.
He misses his first two shots – a jumper and a three. But he makes up for it on defense. Left alone on a 1-on-1 break with Collison, Klay retreats nicely while raising his arms, giving Collison no space, and he misses a tough layup.
Klay misses his third straight on a wide-open three. The misses are in his head. His body language shows doubt. The Mexican guys are calling him, “Estupido wedo.”
But here’s a wide-open layup to get the confidence back. Uh oh. Klay misses the easy wide-open layup. He’s looking at his hands like they’ve suddenly turned into Festus Ezeli’s.
Dallas ties it at 92 with 4:15 left. Jack hits a clutch three, then we get a Brandon Wright technical. Jackson goes with the guy who’s missed fourth straight shots to shoot the tech. Klay makes it five by missing the free throw. Now his hands must look like Andris Biedrins’.
Up two with 43 seconds to play, Klay contests a Mayo jumper and scrapes his forearm for the foul. Mayo hits just one free throw. Some Lee rebounds and Jack free throws seal the win as Klay goes scoreless in the fourth quarter.
Klay is an amazing shooter. When he has it going, it is a beautiful thing to see. But when he loses it, things can get ugly. This happened in the fourth quarter as he lost his confidence and played a key role in the Warriors nearly losing a 13-point lead.
Even with the cold fourth quarter, Klay finished the game shooting 11-18 from the field (3-7 3FG) for 27 points. He grabbed just one rebound and handed out zero assists, so when he went cold he didn’t do much to pick things up in other areas of his game.
His defense was fine. But several plays where he lost focus hurt the team as two examples resulted in made three-pointers by Mayo and Carter. Mayo was 8-13 from the field with 25 points. Most of those came on Klay but many of them were made with Klay in his face.
In two games of “The Klay Thompson Watch” he has 32 and 27 points, with 57 coming in the first three quarters and just two in the fourth. Let’s see how he performs in the fourth quarter against Phoenix tonight.