NBA

'I still take pride in my defense' – Klay Thompson defends reputation after Warriors' blowout win

By Sports Desk May 19, 2022

Golden State Warriors wing Klay Thompson emphasised that it all starts on the defensive end, while highlighting the performance of Andrew Wiggins after his side's 112-87 Game 1 blowout of the Dallas Mavericks.

The Warriors had seven players score in double-figures, led by Stephen Curry with a game-high 21 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, along with tying for the game-high with four assists.

While the Warriors' offense was strong, shooting 56.1 per cent from the field, it was their defense that won them the game, holding the Mavericks to 18 points in the first quarter and igniting a 15-4 run to start the third.

A main talking point from the series opener was the impressive performance of Andrew Wiggins, scoring 19 points while being the primary defender on Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic, holding him to 20 points on six-of-18 shooting with seven turnovers.

Speaking after the game, Thompson discussed the narrative that he is not the defender he once was and what he thinks makes the Warriors defense so good.

"I think our length, starting with Andrew [Wiggins] – he was moving them puppies tonight," he said.

"I still take pride in my defense, no matter what people say about if I've 'lost it' or not, I still think I'm a very good defender. Steph is in the [passing] lanes, obviously Draymond [Green], we can count on him every night on that side of the ball.

"I don't really pay attention to the noise [about criticism of his defense] – I know what I'm capable of, and I know what my team-mates are capable of. I knew we were able to do what we did tonight – it was just going to take a lot of focus and trusting each other.

"I'm trying. It's hard. Marking the best player every night for 40 minutes is not easy, and going to get buckets on the other end, but it's something I love to do. 

"All the best two-guards to ever play the game played both sides of the ball – whether it was Mike [Jordan], Kobe [Bryant], [Dwyane Wade], guys I really idolised as a kid – they all competed on that side, so I just try to follow the same mould."

Thompson went on to touch on the mediocre performance from Doncic, before showering Wiggins with further praise, saying he is happy people are finally seeing "who he really is".

"Luka is obviously one of the best players in the world," he said. "It didn't help that they played two days ago, off that emotional high of winning a Game 7, so we expect them to come back with a much better effort on Friday. 

"That's why [Wiggins] was the number one pick [of the 2014 NBA Draft]. You can't teach that athleticism, you can't teach that length or his timing. 

"I'm just happy the world is getting to see who he really is – an incredible wing player – and he will be like this for the next 10 years.

"I think him being here, he's allowed to be himself. We have so many great, talented players that it can be somebody's night and the ball will find them. 

"Andrew was incredible tonight, I can't say enough good things about him. 

"He makes my job so much easier, I don't have to check the best player every night – after what I've been through, that's a nice change of pace. He doesn't seem to get tired, his outside shot has greatly improved, and he's just coming into his own.

"It's just one game, and we can feel good now, but [the Mavericks] were down 2-0 and won their series last round."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr echoed Thompson's sentiments about Wiggins.

"I thought [Wiggins] was fantastic," he said. "Doncic is as difficult a cover as there is in this league, and we just asked Wiggs to try to hound him and guard him as best as he could. 

"He did a fantastic job – Wiggs is just a huge part of our defense and our team. I thought he was great offensively as well, so great night for Andrew."

When asked about the job the Warriors defense did on him, Doncic was respectful but had little to add.

"They did a great job – that's it, that's all I have to say. They did a great job," he said. 

"It's one game, that's what the playoffs is about. Whether you lose by one or you lose by 40, it's a loss, so we just have to get ready for Game 2 now."

Related items

  • Suns point guard Booker expected to be sidelined for 7-to-10 days Suns point guard Booker expected to be sidelined for 7-to-10 days

    The Phoenix Suns will likely be without Devin Booker for 7-to-10 days after the four-time All-Star sprained his right ankle late in Saturday’s 118-109 loss to the Houston Rockets.

    Booker had 24 points in 38:21 of action before getting injured when he stepped on teammate Royce O'Neale's foot.

    Booker is averaging 27.5 points - second on the Suns behind Kevin Durant (27.8) – and leads the team with 6.8 assists per game while also averaging 4.6 rebounds.

    Booker, Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are the only three players in the NBA averaging at least 27.5 points, 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game.

    Phoenix (35-26) is in seventh place in the Western Conference and battling a handful of teams for positioning in an attempt to avoid the NBA Play-In Tournament.

  • LeBron James 'hated' circumstances of reaching record 40,000-point mark LeBron James 'hated' circumstances of reaching record 40,000-point mark

    LeBron James "hated" the circumstances in which he reached 40,000 career points as it came in a defeat for the Los Angeles Lakers.

    The NBA's record all-time scorer hit the latest milestone in his career in the second quarter of his side's 124-114 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

    James scored a team-high 26 points, taking his overall tally to 40,017, but it was not enough as the Lakers' two-game winning run was snapped.

    "For me, the main thing is always the main thing, and that's the win," James said after the contest at Crypto.com Arena

    "I hated that it had to happen in the defeat, especially versus the team that plays extremely well. 

    "We played some good basketball tonight, but wasn't able to close it out. So, it's bittersweet but I enjoyed every moment tonight on the floor."

    James is averaging 25.3 points per game this season, which is currently the 17th-best return of any player.

    "I feel like I'm still that threat out on the floor and I am still able to do the things that I was doing 10 and even 20 years ago," James added.

    The loss was the Lakers' eighth in a row against the Nuggets and continued a theme of James losing games in which he hits a milestone figure.

    James also fell short in games that saw him hit 10,000 rebounds, 10,000 assists, 30,000 points and a record 38,388 points.

    The 20-time NBA All-Star surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 40-year points record last season and is showing no signs of letting up.

    Of all active players, the Phoenix Suns' Kevin Durant is closest to James with 28,342 points, while Stephen Curry has 23,254 points.

    Asked if James' ever-growing tally will ever be surpassed, team-mate Anthony Davis said: "Possibly Steph, the way he shoots the ball, but I guess not?"

    "It's just tough because he's not finished playing, so it's only going to increase. That gap is only going to get bigger and bigger.

    "So as of right now, I don't see anybody breaking his record."

    James does not quite see it that way, though, adding: "We have a lot of great guys in our league that can score the ball.

    "If they were to stay healthy and they would play a long time, then they can eclipse it. Records are always meant to be broken. Never say never."

    The 33-29 Lakers are 10th in the Western Conference ahead of facing the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.

  • Curry laments 'perfect storm' as Warriors demolished by Celtics Curry laments 'perfect storm' as Warriors demolished by Celtics

    Stephen Curry lamented a "perfect storm" as the Golden State Warriors were on the end of a 140-88 defeat to the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

    The loss at TD Garden was the fourth-worst the Warriors, who entered the contest in good form, have suffered in franchise history.

    It marks the third time this season the Celtics have won by 50 points or more, meanwhile, as they racked up an 11th victory in a row.

    "The way that they've been playing, they seem very sure of themselves in their identity and who they are," Curry said. "Give them credit. 

    "They came out and whooped us from the jump, and it was a perfect storm of a rough [day] on our end and them taking it to us."

    Curry played despite being questionable, but he did not feature in the second half as he finished with a season-low tally of four points.

    The Warriors will hope to have Curry back to full fitness for their return to action against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

    "This was not a day off for Steph, though he probably could have used one," Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said.

    "He's played so well and for so long this year. Hopefully the next few days he'll get it recharged."

    Jaylen Brown led the scoring with 29 points, while birthday boy Jayson Tatum had 26 in the Celtics' third-biggest victory in franchise history.

    Boston led by a franchise-record 44 points at the midway point and went on to extend their advantage to 51 before making some changes.

    "It feels great, but, at the same time, it's always within humility," Brown said. "We don't take the game for granted. 

    "We didn't come and mess around and that's just how we show our respect to the game, we handle business and take care of it.

    "It's a lot of respect for the Golden State Warriors, but we feel like it's our time now."

    The 48-12 Celtics lead the Eastern Conference, while the Warriors are ninth in the Western Conference with a record of 32-28. 

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.