The Warriors caught the break of the night, perhaps, when Washington point guard John Wall was ejected midway through the third quarter. He picked up his second technical foul after taunting Golden State guard Klay Thompson (as seen and heard in this video).
THOMPSON: “I think he was just frustrated. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, though. I know John. I’ve played with him. In that moment, I understand. You’re frustrated. After you get fouled hard, then the next play you think you get fouled hard again. He’s competitive. He let his emotions get the best of them.”
It began on a fast break moments earlier. A Curry turnover led to a break-away by Wall. Thompson fouled Wall to prevent the layup and Wall landed hard, sliding into the stanchion.
On the Warriors’ ensuing offensive possession, Wall was pressuring Thompson near the sidelines. Thompson was trying to receive a pass from Curry and an aggressive Wall knocked it out of bounds. In the process, Thompson gave Wall a little forearm shove, knocking him to the ground. It wasn’t called.
While the Warriors inbounded the ball, Wall began barking at Thompson as the two walked to the other side of the court. Wall said he would knock Thompson out and dared him to drive to the basket.
THOMPSON: “I would’ve been unhappy, too. But I’m not trying to get kicked out. It is what it is.”
The officials intervened as Wall’s jawing continued. Both were slapped with technical fouls (though replay shows Thompson did not respond). Wall had picked up a technical foul in the first quarter for arguing with the officials over a David Lee screen. So with his second technical, he was disqualified.
WALL: “Calls weren’t going our way. They got a little too physical. We had some words back and forth and I got my second tech. … We had a chance to win this game. I just let them down. I let the team down getting ejected.”
Last season, even earlier this year, Warriors second-year guard Klay Thompson never visited the training room.
THOMPSON: “I thought I was invincible. I’m thinking, ‘I’m 22, 23. I’m not getting tired.’ But, boy, I was wrong.”
Now, Thompson gets stretched before games. He’s more diligent about eating right and getting his sleep to fend off the soreness and fatigue. His youthful façade of invincibility has been shattered by big minutes in meaningful NBA games.
Don’t get him wrong, he loves it. When told he’s played the second-most minutes in the NBA since the All-Star break, his face lit up like he got a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas.
THOMPSON: “That’s awesome.“That’s gotta be the best stat I’ve heard in a long time.”
Thompson, a gym rat by nature, said he’s longed for the day he’d transition from promising reserve to a must-have-on-the-court starter. Sure, he’s so high on the minutes list because the Warriors have played more games than any team since the break. But he’s still experiencing, for the first time, the grind of being on a winning team in the NBA.
And guess who is the only player who’s played more minutes than Thompson? Stephen Curry.
Winning in San Antonio seems all but impossible for the Warriors. They haven’t done so since 1997, a span of 28 games.
Once again, the Spurs are one of the best teams in the West and the Warriors come to town as major underdogs. Is the 29th time the charm? Will the streak end tonight?
San Antonio will be without All-Star point guard Tony Parker, which figures to help the Warriors (they’ve been starting Corey Joseph at point). But what must the Warriors do to pull it out at the Alamo and head home with a 3-0 road trip? Here are five keys …
Klay Thompson said he had no idea that Bill Simmons said the Warriors passed up a chance to trade him for James Harden. He said he’s completely oblivious to no shortage of fans who are lamenting the Warriors’ hesitance to pull the trigger.
The last few meetings, Thompson has played like he knows he and Harden were linked in the trade rumor mill. But he said the first he heard of it was when he was asked about it after the Warriors’ 108-78 win at Houston on Sunday.
THOMPSON: “I had no idea. Even if I did, (Simmons) can say what he wants. All I know is we’ve got a better record than them at this point. I seem to play well against him. So, yeah, it don’t effect me. All I can control is what I do out there.”
Mark Jackson’s been trying to tell you all along. Your worrying and fretting was unnecessary. His Warriors’ got this.
OK, he admitted it can be a little frustrated, their up-and-down. But the Warriors’ convincing 108-78 win at Houston on Sunday was just the latest evidence of what he’s been saying through it all.
MARK JACKSON: “We are a young basketball team that hasn’t experienced success. You’ve got to stay true to the process. I understand the frustration of fans. But for us we’re going to stay true to the process. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were not made overnight. They struggled. We’re winning going through the process. I’m proud of that. We’re going to be just fine. Like I said, there is no panic here. We’re excited about what we’re doing and where we’re headed.”
Golden State now sits 1.5 games ahead of Houston for the No. 6 seed. They have a chance to lock up a successful three-game road trip with a win at New Orleans tonight.
There is no question that if Golden State plays like it did Sunday, they’ll be dangerous in the playoffs. The trick has been getting them to play this way consistently. The dominant performance over Houston, as clutch as it was, came off an embarrassing defeat to Chicago.
Have the Warriors turned the corner? Or was this just the latest tease of an up-and-down team?
HOUSTON — Warriors coach Mark Jackson pumped his fist when center Andrew Bogut tapped away the rebound as the horn sounded. It was the perfect punctuation to one of the best first-half performances of the season.
The Warriors head into the locker room up 54-31. And they’re doing it with suffocating defense, holding Houston to 9 of 46 shooting (19.6 percent) with eight turnovers. And they’re doing it against a team that owned them the first three meetings, tying an NBA record with 23 3-pointers the last time they were here. And they’re doing it in a game they really need, as the Rockets are just a half game back.
After getting blown out at home Friday by Chicago, the Warriors were pointing to this matchup as a statement game. And they are indeed making one.
It really comes down to veteran guard Jarrett Jack or Harrison Barnes.
That’s the choice coach Mark Jackson is left with when he is deciding who will finish games for him. Point guard Stephen Curry and forward David Lee, the two best players, are locks. As is center Andrew Bogut, the team’s best defender.
And, in Jackson’s mind, so is off guard Klay Thompson, who has emerged as the Warriors’ best perimeter defender and a feared weapon on offense.
So that leaves Jackson choosing between Jack and Barnes. More times than not, he’s going with Jack.
“It’s the best lineup,” Jackson said of the four starters with Jack. “The point is you can only play five guys. I don’t know who I will end with, but chances are those will be the five guys on the floor.”