Late Saturday night, after yet another forgettable performance, Klay Thompson vowed to be better on Sunday night.
“Like I said before I’ll be much better tomorrow, playing with more energy,” he said after the Warriors took an eight-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. “And, individually, my worst performance of this young season so far.
“So, I’m eager to have a nice bounce-back game tomorrow.”
His pledge went unkept. Not for lack of trying. Klay’s energy was good, his effort commendable. His proficiency was lacking as the Warriors ate every bite of a.
Golden State’s offense once again lived and died with whatever Stephen Curry could cook up. He poured in a game-high 38 points, but his hunt for success was a lonely journey.
Designated as Curry’s primary sidekicks, Andrew Wiggins and Thompson combined for 22 points. Wiggins, with six points, again delivered yet another game of virtually zero offensive impact.
“We need some scoring and some playmaking from elsewhere,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re going to keep plugging away and we’ll go from there and see where that takes us.”
By the rite of history, it would start with Klay. He is Steph’s touchstone twin. He has been riding with Steph since 2011. They are backcourt blood brothers, four-time NBA champions who achieved greatness as a duo through their ability to play off each other, each filling any vacuum left by the other.
Klay wants to continue the tradition. Wants to regain All-Star status. Steph wants the same for his teammate. But 11 games into the season, Golden State’s offense is mostly Curry and a prayer.
On so many occasions in the past, Thompson, the man with the golden shooting mechanics, has been the answer to that prayer.
Yet there he was, early in the fourth quarter, as the Warriors were trying to rally their way back into the game, attacking the rim on a breakaway layup – and having it roll off the rim.
The moment was symbolic. A shot with a very high conversion rate going awry at a critical time.
Thompson took 16 shots and made five. Took 10 3-pointers and made three. He drained all three of his free throws and finished with 16 points, enough to finish second behind Curry on the team.
But Klay wants more. Shooting is his NBA identity and always has been. Even in the days of yore, when the Warriors routinely assigned him to defend the most threatening backcourt scorer, Klay’s status revolved around his shot and the form that serves as its launchpad.
The defensive assignments have changed, a product of physical limitations imposed by devastating midcareer injuries. Klay’s perfect shooting form still is in place and will remain so as long as he’s able to jump.
His shots, however, keep hiding from the bottom of the net. He’s shooting 43 percent from the field, 34 percent from deep. At this point, Klay would settle for any shot, regardless of distance, providing him with the glorious sound of swish.
Wiggins’ role, to be fair, is to be the team’s No. 3 scorer. Klay is No. 2. Not until his scoring arrives, and history tells us it will, can the Warriors begin to consider their offense close to whole.
“We did have open looks that we missed,” Kerr said. “I mean, 12-of-43 from 3. We can definitely shoot better. I think we will on Tuesday.”
Another vow. This time, from the coach. We’ll see if the two-day gap makes a difference.
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