Rewind: Thompson delivers when Warriors need him most

Rewind: Thompson delivers when Warriors need him most
March 4, 2014, 9:45 pm
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That was the look we wanted. Get Paul George out of the picture. I thought we did a great job of reading. The guys got it in Klay’s hands with plenty of time and we wanted to take the last shot.
Mark Jackson

The temperature of the Warriors is most accurately measured not by the production of Stephen Curry or David Lee or even Andrew Bogut.

Nor is with the consistency of the message off the tongue of coach Mark Jackson.

To get a clear reading of the Warriors and their capabilities, the man to study is Klay Thompson. So much about the highs and lows of this team mirror the flights and falls of the mercurial shooting guard.

Against the NBA-best Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, Thompson was superb. So, naturally, victory followed.

This 98-96 win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse was a Thompson Production, from the 11 consecutive points the 6-foot-7 Washington State product scored early in the fourth quarter to his game-winning fadeaway jumper with 0.6 seconds left. When the game was tight, he created space.

[INSTANT REPLAY: Thompson's game-winner saves Warriors]

With the clock moving to zeroes and overtime looming, he delivered triumph.

"He had a big fourth quarter but that’s what we expect out of Klay," center Jermaine O'Neal said. "Steph gets most of the attention around here but we feel that Klay is one of the best two-guards in the league. There aren’t too many guys that can knock down shots at 6-7 or 6-8 like he can."

Thompson finished with a team-high 25 points – 16 in the fourth quarter – all while playing more minutes (41) than anybody on either team and despite challenging defensive assignments on Lance Stephenson and Paul George.

"He was the difference in the game, creating shots in the post and out on the floor," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of Thompson.

"He was great,'' Jackson said. "I wanted to make sure he was fine physically because it was a demanding game. He had to either defend George or Stephenson. But he’s a guy that’s durable; we take it for granted. He’s a guy that’s never missed a game. But he was big time."

When Thompson is draining open jump shots and driving to the hoop, the court loosens and the game is easier for his teammates, particularly Curry. The Warriors are 10-2 when Thompson scores 25 points, 6-1 when he goes for at least 27.

Thompson's offense allows Curry to be a more effective distributor and a more selective shooter. The Warriors are 10-11 when Curry takes at least 20 shots, 26-10 when he takes fewer. Curry took 18 shots on Tuesday.

But because Steph is such a threat, he drew the Pacers' top perimeter defender, George, on the final Warriors possession. That left George Hill to guard Thompson. And Thompson, four inches taller, exploited the advantage.

"That was the look we wanted," said Jackson, who called a timeout with 10.9 seconds to play. "Get Paul George out of the picture. I thought we did a great job of reading. The guys got it in Klay’s hands with plenty of time and we wanted to take the last shot."

The result was a Thompson splash, the Warriors (37-24) snapping a six-game losing streak at Indiana (46-14) and nabbing one of their most impressive wins of the season.

THE GOOD: Thompson was aggressive early and phenomenal late. He gets the game ball. Maybe he can settle into a groove.

The bench continues to develop and was huge in this game. Warriors reserves outscored those of the Pacers 34-11, with special mention going to Draymond Green (10 points, seven rebounds, three assists) and Harrison Barnes (10, five and two).

The defense was fierce, especially in the first half, when Indy shot 38.3 percent, and the rebounding was contagious. Six Warriors grabbed at least five boards.

THE BAD: Losing a 13-point lead (92-79) in the fourth quarter due to a combination of turnovers and missed shots that allowed the Pacers to put together a 15-2 run.

THE TAKE: The Warriors came into the game under a bit of pressure, knowing a loss would kill the possibility of a winning road trip. They played hard throughout, and mostly well. They showed resilience when the Pacers stormed back.

If this is the game that gets Thompson's offense going, the Warriors will become more consistent – and dangerous enough to threaten any team in the Western Conference.