Thompson — who finished with just nine points in a dire defeat that now leaves the Dubs in a 3-1 series hole — missed two questionable late threes that helped turn a 99-98 Golden State lead into a 102-99 deficit the Dubs would never recover from. The first was a 28-foot moonshot from the right side with Dennis Schroder in his shooting pocket that bricked hard right, and the second a leaning three with 14 seconds still on the shot clock and Lonnie Walker contesting that clanged off the left side of the rim.
The latter left Kerr clearly annoyed. His show of emotions quickly ran the gamut from an exaggerated back bend, to putting his hands on his head, to a perplexed shrug.
“Think of everything he’s done for this team — part of who he is is he’s going to fire away,” Kerr said of Thompson during his postgame remarks. “There were a couple late he’d probably like to have back. But that’s part of who we are as a team, we’re going to fire. If Steph Curry or Klay gets an opening they’re going to let it go — they’ve had a ton of success over the years obviously. They both had some looks down the stretch, but give the Lakers credit. They played good defense and we couldn’t get anything to go.”
Klay couldn’t get much working at all in the fourth. He finished with two fouls, a turnover and hit just one of three shots — all 3-point attempts. Thompson is shooting 44% from three this series and 41.2% from the field.
“We made history before. The goal is to win one at home. We know we are capable of taking care of home court. It’s about staying present and not looking ahead,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. “It’s fun to reflect on the past and learn from it and take that same competitive energy that brought us back in the past to today.”
The history that Thompson is referencing is the Warriors’ 3-1 comeback during the 2016 Western Conference Finals. Golden State won the last three games of the series to advance to the playoffs and knock out the KD-Russ Oklahoma City Thunder. Of course, that accomplishment would be overshadowed by them squandering that same 3-1 lead in the Finals against LeBron James’ Cavaliers.
Thompson’s struggles in Games 3 and 4 have been one reason the Warriors have fallen behind 3–1 in the series. He scored just 9 points on 3-of-11 shooting and 3-of-9 from three in Game 4, and before that had 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting and six turnovers in Game 3’s blowout defeat.
His first game of the series, a five-point loss at Chase Center, Thompson scored 25 points and made six 3-pointers but shot a lowly 36 percent (9 of 25) from the field. Game 2 was much more of what the Warriors need from the second half of the Splash Brothers. He put up an efficient 30 points on 61.1-percent shooting (11 of 18) and a 72.7-percent clip (8 of 11) from 3-point range.
But over the last two games, both Warriors losses in LA, Thompson has averaged 12 points on 33.3-percent shooting (8 of 25) and 32 percent (6 of 18) behind the 3-point line. He was held to nine points Monday night, going 3 of 11 from the field and 3 of 9 from three. His final two shots were inexcusable for a player who one day will be in the Hall of Fame.
First, with the Warriors up by one point and two-plus minutes remaining in regulation, Thompson only had five seconds left on the shot clock but the whole right side of the court unguarded. Instead, he opted to let it fly from 28 feet and watched his shot clank off the back of the rim.
“That one with five seconds on the shot clock, wish I could have that back, gotten a better look,” Thompson said to reporters in the Warriors locker room after the loss, per the Mercury News’ Shayna Rubin.
A mere 34 seconds later, Thompson produced some frustrated Warriors reactions on another bad decision from deep. This time, the Warriors trailed by one and Thompson still had 14 seconds left on the shot clock. He wasn’t on a hot streak, this wasn’t a heat check.
It was an untimely attempt of Thompson trying to do it himself, at the worst moment possible.
“That one on the left wing, I feel like I rushed it,” Thompson said, per Rubin. “I should have taken my time.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr leans back, grabs his head and can’t believe what he just watched. He has been coaching Thompson for nearly a decade and has lived with plenty of wild shots. Thompson’s two late heaves simply were unjustifiable.
Draymond Green, palms up, puts his arms out and stares at Thompson. Even without sound, one can easily imagine him thinking WHY? Jonathan Kuminga, the Warriors’ 20-year-old super-athlete who has been relegated to the bench, literally gets up and walks away.
From an offseason that included a four-year contract extension worth up to $140 million that kicks in next season to the infamous training camp punch, the spotlight has been bright for Poole. Sometimes fairly, sometimes unfairly. The numbers are there, though, and they haven’t been very pretty this postseason.
Against the Sacramento Kings in the first round, Poole averaged 12 points on 33.8-percent shooting and 25.7 percent as a 3-point shooter. Malik Monk averaged 19 points off the bench for the Kings on 40.9-percent shooting and 33.3 percent shooting threes. Those shooting averages aren’t great, but Monk did score more than 20 points three times and put a scare into the Warriors’ defense.
Now, as the conference semifinals shift back to San Francisco, Poole is averaging 8.0 points on 35.3-percent shooting and 31.6 percent beyond the arc. Walker, who was a DNP (Did Not Play) in Game 1, is averaging 12.0 points for the series on 60.9-percent shooting and 36.4 percent from long distance. Last year in the playoffs, Poole averaged 17.0 points on 11.5 shots per game, shooting 50.8 percent from the field and 39.1 percent as a 3-point threat.
For how much Curry’s leadership matches his greatness on the court, his secondary scorers are hurting him mightily. Andrew Wiggins as a two-way player that contributes in major ways defensively should ideally be the Warriors’ fourth scoring option behind Thompson and Poole.
The main responsibility for those two is counting buckets and watching the scoreboard churn in the Warriors’ favor. The Warriors, of course, have to be better collectively as Curry suggested. If Thompson and Poole can’t find their shot in front of their home fans come Wednesday night, though, the Warriors are in for an avalanche of questions come this offseason.
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