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NBA playoffs: Klay Thompson “guarantees” he will play better in Game 3 vs. Rockets

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OAKLAND – It usually only requires Klay Thompson a few seconds to hold the ball before drilling a shot. Naturally, it only took a few seconds for Thompson to explain how he will fix his rough performance in the Warriors’ Game 2 loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
“I’ll be better tomorrow,” Thompson said for when the Warriors (1-1) play Game 3 against Houston in the Western Conference Finals on Sunday at Oracle Arena. “I guarantee it.”
Usually, Stephen Curry and Thompson are known as the “Splash Brothers.” In Game 2, though, they became the “Weakest Link.” Curry scored only 16 points while shooting 7-of-19 from the field and 1-f-8 from 3-point range. Thompson added only eight points on a 3-of-11 mark.
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The Warriors downplayed both developments for obvious reasons. Curry has never shot below 50 percent from the field in more than two consecutive games. Thompson has never shot below 40 percent from the field in more than two consecutive games. Yet, Warriors forward Draymond Green offered different perspectives on how the team can fix their backcourt shooting issues.
“We can’t help Steph get going. Steph’s going to help himself,” Green said. “He doesn’t need any of us to create looks for him or anything like that. He’s going to do that himself. We know he will.”
Green rarely withholds an opinion. Yet, he did not put much blame on Thompson’s shooting woes on himself as he did to Curry.
“Part of that is getting stops,” Green offered as a way to improve Thompson’s shooting numbers. “We got stops in Game 1. Some of those looks come in transition and defenses aren’t set. You get stops, you’ll get more looks.”
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Thompson received those open looks in the Warriors’ Game 1 win against the Rockets on Monday, scoring 28 points while shooting 9-of-18 from the field and 6-of-15 from 3-point range. Then, Houston stubbornly refused to send double teams to Warriors forward Kevin Durant because they felt it was inevitable he would score 37 points anyway, if not more. Yet, the Rockets also left Thompson with so many open looks that he admitted he could not remember the last time he had so many uncontested shots.
In Game 2, the Rockets paid more attention to Thompson. After making a 14-foot jumper only 16 seconds into the game. Thompson then went over seven minutes without a shot attempt before missing a layup. He then missed four of his next five shots in the second quarter. Thompson missed his lone field-goal in the third quarter and missed two more in the fourth.
“They just tried to take away open looks,” Thompson said. “But I have to hunt for those open looks and not settle. I’ll do that [in Game 3].”
That does not mean Thompson plans to call for the ball or run isolation plays for himself.
“Not really force the issue, but just be more aggressive, whether that’s to make a play for somebody else or for my own shot,” Thompson said. “Just be more aggressive and a threat instead of standing around.”
Thompson reached those conclusions after having three full days to think about his bad performance. He also rewatched Game 2 to further analyze his mistakes. Thompson did not break stride in his shooting routine, however, during practices on Friday and Saturday.
“I do have a short memory when it comes to shooting,” Thompson said. “Whatever I’ve done in the past won’t affect what I’ve done tomorrow, whether it’s been a great game or a bad game.”
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Thompson has plenty of experience handling both the good and the bad during his seventh NBA season.
The good: He posted career-highs in shooting percentage, both from the field (48.8) and from 3-point range (44.0). He had 24 points on 11-of-22 shooting in the Warriors’ Game 5 win over San Antonio to close out the first round after scoring only 12 points on a 4-of-16 clip in a Game 4 loss. After missing eight games in March with a sprained right thumb, Thompson shot 50.8 percent from the field in his first three games back.
The bad: He shot 25 percent in four games. He shot in the 30 percent range in 10 other games. And he shot 38.4 percent from the field in the Warriors’ five-game Western Conference semifinals series against New Orleans.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr blamed the team’s defense instead of Thompson for those numbers.
“If we get stops, then Klay is going to get more open shots,” Kerr said. “In general, when we’re at our best is when we’re getting stops, running out in transition and getting Klay openings in transition from the 3-point line.”
And when the Warriors are at their worst? As they saw in their Game 2 loss to Houston, the Warriors suddenly could not rely on one of their most dependable shooters
“They scored more, which meant they got their defense set up more,” Kerr said of the Rockets’ defense on Thompson. “They were angry because they lost Game 1. We were really comfortable because we won Game 1. They kicked our ass. Simple enough.”
What else is simple: Thompson’s guarantee that he will shoot better in Game 3.

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