By Rob Johnson
Special to S.F. Examiner
PORTLAND, Ore. — Less than 48-hours ago, the Portland Trailblazers beat the Golden State Warriors 110-109 in an overtime thriller at Oracle Arena. Klay Thompson, in the midst of the worst 3-point shooting season of his career, went went just 2-for-9 from 3-point range, and shot just 6-for-19 from the field.
Over the last five games leading into Saturday’s rematch in Portland, Thompson had been mired in a shooting slump — arguably the worst of his career — and hadn’t had a 30-point game in over a month.
Upon his return to the state of Oregon — where he spent time growing up, between the ages of two and 14 — Thompson got a boost from noticeably loud cheers throughout the Moda Center after scoring a quick seven points in the first quarter. He finished the night with a team-high 32 points on 12-of-21 shooting, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range.
“It’s like a second home here, I grew up here, my childhood was great here,” Thompson said. “I was very fortunate to come around to Blazer games as a kid at the Rose Garden, with some of my favorite players, you know and my dad (Mychal Thompson, former Blazer). To be front of my family is surreal … Feels like yesterday I was running around these hallways trying to snag autographs, but it’s always a pleasure to play back here.”
Thompson, who’s shooting 43.6 percent from the field this year, is having his worst shooting season since his second season in the league, when he shot 42.2 percent. Even that year, though, he shot 41.4 percent from beyond the arc. Over the five games before his return to Oregon, he’d shot 18.5 percent from beyond the arc (5-for-27), lowering his season mark to 33.3 percent from long distance.
“He looked like himself, even after a missed dunk … and then he came down and had a layup that kind of went all the way in and came all the way out back-to-back, but he was fine after that,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “I thought maybe he’d hang his head, but he was already in a groove and I think he could feel it, he could feel the rhythm again. He had a huge night.”
The Warriors led throughout the majority of the game, despite a few runs led by All-Star Damian Lillard, who scored a game-high 40-points on a sizzling 14-for-23 from the field. After that though, the Blazers box score only had Jusuf Nurkic with 21 points (none in the fourth-quarter) creating a constant threat. The Warriors defense held Portland to 42.9 percent shooting from the field (39-of-91) and 9-for-31 from three (29 percent).
Golden State had four players score in double figures, and got strong bench contributions from Jonas Jerebko (8 points, 4 rebounds, +14), Quinn Cook (6 points, 3 rebounds) and Shaun Livingston (+10, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals).
“Defense was really good, the focus was really good,” Kerr said. “I also like what the bench did … I didn’t like what they did the other night, playing eight guys, I never like doing that … I like to play a lot of guys, and tonight Quinn and Alfonso [McKinnie] came in and did a great job … we changed our rotation a bit.. I thought a everybody who stepped on the floor did a really good job.”
Right behind Thompson’s breakout night was Kevin Durant — who was 10 for 19 — and Stephen Curry — who shot 6-of-15 — both aided 25-point performances in the Warriors win.
“I expect that out of him every time he plays, no matter what,” said Durant of Thompson’s night. “Klay is always Klay… I stopped getting exited for Klay … I’m not going to go overboard, because I expect him to do that and he expects that out of himself … He’s still a part of this team make or miss.”