Klay, Warriors get spark from team meeting before win vs. Knicks originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — Klay Thompson in the early stages of the season has been searching, pressing and fighting to find himself and be the player he believes he still can be for the Warriors. In Golden State’s 111-101 win over the New York Knicks on Friday night at Chase Center, Thompson found his stroke in the first quarter and Golden State as a whole showed major signs of what they expect out of themselves.
And it all started with a pass. Better yet, it all started with passing up a shot.
Two possessions after missing his first shot attempt of the night, Thompson was in place to let it fly from the right corner in front of the Warriors’ bench. He looked ready to shoot and even extended up like he was about to. However, he took one dribble, kicked it out and Steph Curry quickly found Kevon Looney down low.
Looney converted for two tough points, and Klay couldn’t help himself. Turning to the Warriors bench, he pointed at his teammates and coaches, giving them all a silent notion that the message has been received.
“That’s how the game is supposed to look,” Steve Kerr said of Thompson’s early patience and ball movement.
Thompson played by far his best game of the season thus far. In 31 minutes, he scored 20 points while going 8-for-16 from the field and 4-for-10 from 3-point range. This was his second game of scoring 20 or more points this season, and first in front of the home fans.
What stood out more is how Thompson scored his points. All night, he might have taken one or two bad shots, a vast improvement compared to what we’ve seen out of him. Nothing was forced, the game finally came to him. The win was the first time Thompson shot 50 percent or better in the 13 games he has played.
His plus-18 in plus-minus also was a season-high, and his best since Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals from a season ago.
“Much more patient early and it paid off for him,” Kerr said. “Paid off for our team, too. It seemed like every time Klay made an extra pass the ball started to move and then we got a wide-open shot. We ended up with 32 assists. So it started with Klay taking a more patient approach.
“I thought he was great and then the game rewarded him. He made some big shots down the stretch and I just thought the quality of his attempts were much better tonight.”
While Thompson’s efficient night played a major part in the Warriors’ seventh win of the season, as always, everything starts with No. 30.
Curry’s 50-point effort wasn’t enough in the Warriors’ previous game, a road loss to the Phoenix Suns. He scored when needed Friday night, dropping 16 of his 24 points in the second half. But his mindset was clear from the start.
Steph was out to get his teammates going early, especially his fellow Splash Brother. The Warriors’ first five made shots all were assisted by Curry. He finished with 10 assists, good for his third double-double this season and second game dishing 10 or more assists.
“You could tell Steph approached the game with a sense of purpose and being a point guard and making sure the ball was moving and being distributed, and making sure our offense was clicking,” Kerr said. “Then once we established that he started being more aggressive, but I thought Steph was brilliant tonight.”
The pairing of Curry and Thompson combined to score 44 points. They each were a plus-18. They also weren’t alone.
Andrew Wiggins scored 20 points, Jordan Poole gave the Warriors 13 points off the bench and JaMychal Green was right behind him with 12.
Draymond Green added 10 points and was barely shy of a triple-double with nine rebounds and seven assists. Stats aren’t what propelled the Warriors to their most complete win of the season.
Their voices did.
“We had a great team meeting this morning,” JaMychal Green revealed after the win. “We addressed a lot of things that needed to be addressed. I think we’re starting to get it together.”
He later said that the Warriors players “addressed the elephants in the room” and believed that though it was a tough conversation, it was a much needed one. Being connected more as a team offensively and defensively was a major theme. Moving the ball and not forcing anything was tackled as well.
That’s how Thompson played, and he agreed on how productive the talk led by Draymond was for everyone.
Draymond and Thompson specifically had what Klay called a “great conversation” centered on Green reminding him to trust his teammates and continue to be patient, which he exemplified against the Knicks.
“Very constructive meeting, and Draymond definitely held the floor,” he said. “He’s such a great motivator. We all responded really well. Just looking forward to starting a new win streak.”
It’s not often that the defending champions need these types of conversations this quickly into the season. At the same time, it’s not often the Warriors struggle like they have.
No more messing around. Kerr called out his team’s lack of joy and connectivity in Phoenix. His players took note and didn’t waste any more time.
“They can be very useful,” Klay continued when talking about the Warriors’ team meeting. “We thought that this morning was an incredible type of growth for us and the whole team. Some early-season adversity is right in front of us and what’s most important is how we respond.
“I thought we responded very well tonight and played that Warriors brand of basketball that has made us the best team of the decade.”
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Point taken, point proven. There can both be areas to fix and reason to believe the Warriors now are on the right path.
The path now takes them back on the road for two games, where they have begun the season with an 0-8 record away from the friendly confines of their home crowd. Coming away with wins in Houston and New Orleans will prove if this was a short-lived silver lining, or if Golden State really got the gist of it all.
Through 16 games, it isn’t easy to always tell with this team. Bet on the latter. Accountability made its way to the court this morning. Hours later, joy took a front seat again and like it usually does, a win followed on the scoreboard.