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Klay Thompson flashed back to a night he left the arena still in uniform [url=http://www.bearscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-jim-mcmahon-jersey]Jim McMahon Jersey[/url] , furious about his forgettable performance against Denver.
It used to be he struggled to shake off a bad night, or even a bad start to a game.
Now, he just keeps shooting. Whenever he feels like it, from wherever. No conscience. A hand or two in his face, no matter.
”I was not always like this. I used to be so hard on myself, especially early in my career,” Thompson said. ”… I learned, as I get older, if you play with passion, you play hard, and you leave the game saying I gave everything I have tonight in those 48 minutes, you can live with the result.”
The Warriors‘ season lives on largely thanks to Thompson’s shooting touch. Golden State is one win from a fourth straight NBA Finals, headed back to Houston for Monday night’s Game 7.
He came through with the defending champions’ season on the line in another do-or-die Game 6, just as he did two years ago at Oklahoma City. This time he scored 35 points with nine 3-pointers as the Warriors rallied with a huge second half to beat the Rockets 115-86 on Saturday night to force a deciding game in the Western Conference finals.
His defense shined, too. Oh, and the typically subdued Thompson let his emotions flow for all to see: He flexed his biceps Draymond Green style, pumped his arms like Kevin Durant and yelled out the way Stephen Curry often does at Oracle Arena.
Thompson has long been content to be the understated All-Star among the four in Golden State’s starting lineup.
”I just wanted to play with as much passion as I could tonight. Probably sounded more vocal than I usually am,” Thompson acknowledged. ”When your back’s against the wall [url=http://www.broncoscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-su_a-cravens-jersey]Su'a Cravens Jersey[/url] , if your shot’s not falling, you can always control your passion and how hard you play. Usually when I do that, it trickles over to other aspects of my game.”
Curry’s Splash Brother did it in 2016 when he scored 41 points against Durant’s former Thunder team with the Warriors facing elimination. They went on to win Game 7 before falling to LeBron James and the Cavaliers in a seven-game NBA Finals.
Durant had no interest in recollecting, smiling and laughing with Curry as he said, ”next question.”
As for Curry?
”I think we both blocked that whole year out of our memory,” the two-time MVP quipped.
No arguing they both appreciate Thompson’s no-fear shooting approach and ability to almost single-handedly turn the tide of a game with a timely 3-pointer or two – or nine.
Once Golden State got going in transition, following clutch defensive stops, Thompson found the looks he so prefers from long range.
”I feel like we’re the best team in the world and most fun team in the world to watch when we’re pushing that ball, getting defensive stops and making plays,” he said. ”We’ve got too much talent not just to hit singles like Coach always says. Trust the next man ahead of us. It will end up working in our favor most of the time.”
Thompson shot 13 for 23 and 9 of 14 from deep as the Warriors responded from an early 17-point deficit to dominate James Harden and Houston the final three quarters, outscoring the Rockets 93-47 after trailing 39-22 at the end of the first.
Thompson went a combined 20 of 32 from 3-point range in those two impressive Game 6 shows, Saturday and in 2016.
”I think Klay doesn’t worry too much about repercussions. He doesn’t worry about judgment and results. I think he just loves to play,” coach Steve Kerr said. ”He’s so comfortable in his own skin. I just think he wants to go out there and hoop, and he doesn’t worry about much else. So the pressure doesn’t seem to bother him much. He just competes and plays. As I said, the two-way ability of this guy hounding the MVP of the league, most likely, all game, and continuing to rain down 3-pointers [url=http://www.bearscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-john-timu-jersey]John Timu Jersey[/url] , he’s amazing.”
Paul George said all the right things when asked if he’d consider staying with the Oklahoma City Thunder instead of leaving in free agency this summer.
”They honestly check the boxes where I needed those boxes to be checked from what a player wants and needs out of a front office, out of a medical group, out of teammates, out of a coaching staff,” George said Saturday, a day after the Thunder lost their first-round playoff series to Utah 4-2. ”I mean, honestly, I can’t say it any more than that. They checked the boxes on what needs to be checked.”
George’s decision will largely determine if a rare gamble by general manager Sam Presti pays off. The Thunder bucked their tendencies and went for big splashes before this season, trading for George and Carmelo Anthony to join Russell Westbrook in hopes of rejoining the NBA’s elite.
It didn’t work – or at least, it hasn’t yet. Now, the Thunder and their fans are in an eerily familiar position. Kevin Durant had good things to say about Oklahoma City in 2016, but he left for Golden State. Now, George has a $21 million player option for next season. If he declines, he will become a free agent.
It would be a huge loss for the Thunder. George, a 6-foot-9 forward, was an All-Star who averaged 21.9 points and 5.7 rebounds this season and was among the league leaders in steals.
George’s camp showed interest in the Los Angeles Lakers last year before the Thunder made the deal with the Indiana Pacers to get him; Los Angeles is near his hometown. George said going home would be enticing, but that wouldn’t be the determining factor. He said he’d talk to Presti, Westbrook and coach Billy Donovan before making a decision.
”It will definitely be the opportunity on knowing [url=http://www.bengalscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-boomer-esiason-jersey]Boomer Esiason Jersey[/url] , you know, team, personnel, and ultimately like what team will be assembled,” he said. ”That’s the only thing that it will come down to.”
George believes the team has something on which to build. The Thunder started off 8-12 but went 40-22 the rest of the way to earn the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the second straight year and Steven Adams evolved into one of the league’s best centers.
But the team never fully recovered after defensive stopper Andre Roberson was knocked out for the season with a ruptured left patellar tendon.
Westbrook said that was hard to overcome.
”I’ve always been very, very big on Andre,” Westbrook said. ”He’s one of my favorite players, just because the things he brings to the game. I know a lot of people across the world, even you guys (media) doubted Andre many, many times about his shooting and all that stuff. But to me, man, the type of guy he is, the things he brings to the game is a huge, huge impact on our team and what he brings to the table.”
Compounding the pressure on the Thunder to keep George is the fact that the players they traded to get him – Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis – have been so good for Indiana. Oladipo had an All-Star season and Sabonis is a solid contributor.
Anthony was Oklahoma City’s No. 3 scorer this season, averaging 16.2 points per game. His playing time dwindled in the playoffs and he wasn’t happy. In Game 5, the Thunder rallied from most of their 25-point deficit against Utah with Anthony on the bench. In Game 6, backup Jerami Grant actually got more court time than Anthony.
Donovan said he won’t need to mend fences with Anthony.
”I think there was a lot made of Game 5, him wanting to be out there [url=http://www.cowboyscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-anthony-brown-jersey]Anthony Brown Jersey[/url] , and I respect that, and I said that about his competitiveness. But I think going forward, Carmelo has been a total pro, and he’s been a total team guy.”
Anthony will be 34 before next season starts, but he still feels he can play at a high level. He became more of a catch-and-shoot scorer this season instead of the isolation specialist he had been. He said prefers to play his old way and said he has no interest in coming off the bench. Though he is due $28 million next season, he seemed unsure of his future.
”It’s something I really have to think about, if I really want to be this type of player, finish out my career as this type of player, knowing that I have so much left in the tank and I bring so much to the game of basketball,” he said. ”And how long I want to continue to do this, I think that’s also a thought process as well.”
In the end, for all Westbrook’s electrifying play and the two major moves, the Thunder have three playoff wins the past two years and haven’t advanced past the first round since Durant left.
”Our biggest challenge to try to figure out I think in this offseason is our consistency,” Donovan said. ”That has been a problem. That’s going to be obviously my major focus. I think it needs to be our team’s major focus.”
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