Before Friday’s game between the Warriors and the Toronto Raptors, Klay Thompson was on the court at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, working on a version of his jump shot that lacked the jump portion.
It was a show Warriors fans have longed for. Seeing half of the Splash Bros. shoot is therapeutic for Dub Nation, and it was lost when Thompson recovers from a second straight leg injury that ended the season.
But there was nothing reassuring about what happened once the Warriors and Raptors started playing. Without Steph Curry and Draymond Green, who were recovering from injuries, Golden State was defeated by Toronto, losing by up to 61 points, yes, sixty-one, and ultimately losing by 53 points, 130-77.
While Curry and Green have addressed their teammates after recent losses, it was Thompson whose voice was heard by some teammates after Friday’s game.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” veteran guard Kent Bazemore told reporters in a video conference after the game. “You’re talking about [them] … and Klay. Klay was there too. These guys have five consecutive Finals appearances. This is by no means acceptable to them. This hurts them more than anything. Klay fired up after the game. These have been the hardest two years to watch his guys and not be able to help, so I think a fire was lit under him, Steph and Draymond, they know how important they are to us. “
Bazemore, who had three points, three rebounds and an assist in 15 minutes, offered more on what Thompson was saying.
“He was just talking about how you lose the game and it’s just not acceptable to lose this way,” Bazemore said. “He’s just excited. He’s excited, man. It’s hard to see, regardless of whether you’re playing or not, just sitting there. As a competitor, you want to be there … It’s hard to explain.”
Rookie Nico Mannion is getting a taste of the NBA for the first time, and there have been some sour shots. While Thompson’s words weren’t directed at the second-round draft pick, Mannion was able to offer some more context.
“I don’t know if he was present when Klay said something, so I really don’t know what that message was,” Mannion told reporters. “I heard it from [hallway] a bit, just talking about how we should have a little more heart, which I agree with 100 percent.
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At 23-26, the Warriors are in danger of missing the playoffs for the second straight season. They still have a chance to qualify for the Western Conference entry tournament, but even that seems like it might not happen with the way they are playing.
All Thompson can do is watch. He is progressing through his rehabilitation with a torn right Achilles tendon, but he will not be able to help the Warriors on the court this season.
It’s up to Curry, Green, Bazemore, Mannion, and the rest of the available Warriors to figure things out and make the ship turn in the right direction.
If Thompson has to speak again before the end of the season, it’s a sign that the Warriors haven’t gotten back on track.