Klay Thompson has been a difference-maker for the Golden State Warriors with Stephen Curry sidelined and he’s pumped that his Splash Brother is nearing a return.
Curry has a chance to return on Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers after more than a month away due to a lower left leg injury. The Warriors were aided by the All-Star break but managed to go 7-3 without Curry in the lineup, including a 5-0 homestand, which they closed out Friday night with a 108-99 victory against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Thompson has been stellar with Curry out, averaging 28.0 points on 47.3 percent shooting from the field and 47.0 percent from beyond the arc. He posted 27 points in the win against the Pelicans, shooting 58.8% from the field.
The Warriors have boosted themselves up to the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference and Thompson is eager to add Curry into the mix.
“We’re all so excited to get our guy back,” Thompson said on Friday night.
Steve Kerr on Stephen Curry: ‘He Looks Good’
It’s the second extended absence by Curry this season. He injured his shoulder in December, which sidelined him for 11 games. Warriors coach Steve Kerr has been impressed by Curry’s resilience as he continues to battle back.
“He looks good. He’s been working really hard,” Kerr said on Thursday. “I think within days of the injury, he was on the bike. It was impressive just watching him on the bike, I mean how hard he goes. He’s really amazing when it comes to his conditioning level and his commitment to keeping it high. He’s had good chances these last few days to get up and down … We’ll re-evaluate probably in the next couple of days.”
Curry is averaging 29.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.4 assists while shooting nearly 50% from the field and 43.7% from deep. But in his absence, the Warriors were able to address some of their struggles, which were sometimes masked by some explosive scoring nights from the two-time MVP.
“Guys have figured out their roles and I think we are in great condition,” Thompson said. “We are having fun, above all. … You realize how important all these games are from here on out. We want to do everything we can to have home court, especially in the first round. So, it’s a great challenge and it’s there for us to take.”
Kerr Pleased With Warriors’ Defensive Improvements
Heading into the All-Star break at .500, there were significant questions about the Warriors’ defense. Draymond Green made no qualms about calling out his Warriors squad for the lack of effort on that end.
“I don’t think it’s a championship hangover. It’s a will to want to defend,” Green said before the break. “You’re not hungover at .500, 60 games into the season. You’re a loser if you’re still hungover at that point, so there’s no hangover. It’s the will to defend, stop and guard your man, sink in help and trap the box, rotate. Defense is all one to two steps extra. I’ma take that extra step to get there or I’m not. That’s all will, and we don’t have that as a team.”
The message has been received and the Warriors have been especially sharp in their last two games, holding the Pelicans and Clippers to under 100 points.
“I feel there’s a grit that comes with defense that allows you to shake [slow starts] off and keep playing,” Kerr said after the Warriors beat the Clippers. “It’s hard to do that when you’re just trading buckets. For most of the season, our defense has been pretty poor. I think that grit goes hand in hand with defense and our defense has been dramatically better.”