Big-Game Klay drops 35 Points to Save the season in Game Six, Warriors win 115-86
After losing consecutive games in the postseason for the first time since 2016, the Golden State Warriors (10-5) flew back to the bay to take on the Houston Rockets (11-4) to save their season. The Warriors were facing elimination for the first time since 2016, and were heavy betting favorites heading into Game Six. In order to save their season, the Warriors would need to beat the Rockets without Andre Iguodala, who was missing his third straight game with a bone bruise on his leg. The Rockets weren’t without injury issues though, as Chris Paul was out after straining his hamstring in the final quarter of Game Five. The Warriors also activated Pat McCaw, who missed two months with a lower-back contusion. Heading into the game, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson guaranteed a win and that the series would go seven games. The Warriors went on to win the game 115-86.
Kevin Durant made the first shot in the first quarter for the Warriors, who were looking out of rhythm early. They looked good defensively on the first couple possessions, but then gave up two wide-open threes to Eric Gordon, allowed a Gordon layup, and an open three to Trevor Ariza. The Warriors did score three times, all in the paint, but were relying heavily on isolations still, even though it did not work in either of the two previous games. After the first 4:27 of the quarter, the Rockets led the Warriors 13-6. After Steve Kerr called a timeout to try and stop the bleeding, Stephen Curry drained a mid range jumper to get the Warriors going. He followed that jump up with a layup after a steal from Klay Thompson before he drained a three from well beyond the arc. He had seven straight points to tie the game. The Rockets then went on a large run to take the lead once more. The Warriors were playing horribly on the offensive end. They did run a pick & roll with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, which resulted in a basket, but Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were both no-shows. The Warriors were leaving the Rockets open from three, and Kevin Durant was doing it more than anyone else. The Rockets made two more threes, one from Trevor Ariza and then James Harden ended an 0/22 streak from downtown to get the lead to eight points. With 2:03 left in the quarter, the Rockets led the Warriors 27-19. After the timeout with two minutes left, Steve Kerr used a lineup that consisted of Kevin Durant (who was ice cold), David West, Nick Young, Shaun Livingston, and Kevon Looney. That lineup got absolutely toasted as the Rockets scored 12 points in those final two minutes. The Warriors did score three more points on free throws from Kevin Durant, who also missed two free throws. James Harden nailed a deep three, PJ Tucker hit a three in transition, James Harden got “fouled” shooting a three” and the Houston Rockets put up 39 points in the first quarter of a closeout game in Oracle Arena. Harden led the Rockets with 15 points, and Trevor Ariza was close behind with 10 of his own. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant led the Warriors with seven points each (though five of Durant’s came at the line, he was 1/6 from the floor). As a team, the Warriors shot 36.4% from the floor and 14.3% (1/7) from three, while the Rockets shot 56.5% from the floor and 66.7% (8/12) from three. After the first quarter, the Rockets led the Warriors 39-22.
Klay Thompson opened up the second quarter with a quick three, and that was the beginning of a very solid offensive stretch from the Warriors. They were running with speed that they did not have in the first quarter. Klay Thompson was beginning to heat up, after he hit that first three, hit nailed another one on a pack & pop with Kevin Durant. Durant also picked up his scoring, nailing a three just before a Houston Timeout. Shaun Livingston nailed a mid range jumper, and the Warriors felt like they were doing everything they could to take the momentum back. Houston was still red-hot though, especially Eric Gordon. Gordon was 5/5, and that included going 3/3 from three. The Warriors did manage to cut the lead to just nine points with 6:08 left in the quarter. After that timeout, Kevin Durant blocked a shot from Harden and went coast-to-coast. He was wide-awake once again. Durant was taking charge, not only scoring in isolation, but also passing to teammates to get them open looks. He hit Kevon Looney for an easy dunk, and he was leading the Warriors charge back into the game. The Rockets, while they were still making shots and getting to the line, were turning the ball over like they were from the Bay Area. By the time timeout was called with 3:35 left in the quarter, the Rockets had committed 11 turnovers, and six of them came from Harden. At the time of that timeout, the Warriors had cut the lead to seven points. The Warriors were celery upset with the fact that momentum was on their side before that time out, and they showed their frustration by allowing several WIDE-open looks from three. Eric Gordon hit another three, as he was 4/4 from deep in the first half, and PJ Tucker hit a wide-open corner three. The Rockets managed to stretch their lead from seven to 10 points at the half. As a team, the Rockets were still red-hot, shooting 48.8% from the floor and 50% (11/22) from three, whereas the Warriors were shooting 42.6% from the floor and 22.2% (4/18) from three. James Harden was blazing the trail for the Rockets, with 22 points in the first half (eight of them came from the charity stripe). Eric Gordon was doing a great job of replacing Chris Paul, as he had 16 points on 6/8 shooting in the half. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 14 points each, and Stephen Curry had 13 points of his own. Kevin Durant was not efficient though, at all, connecting on just 3/11 shots in the half. Stephen Curry, despite scoring 13 points, was having a really tough time getting his shot to fall. He scored his 13 points on 6/13 shooting, and was 1/7 from three. The Warriors were winning the turnover battle though, as they forced 11 turnovers from the Rockets while only turning the ball over six times by themselves. The Warriors had their work cut out for them if they were going to make a run to force a Game Seven. At the half, the Rockets led the Warriors 61-51.
Klay Thompson hit his third three of the game to open the third quarter for the Warriors, which Kevin Durant followed up with a dunk, which Klay Thompson followed up with ANOTHER three. That quick barrage forced a timeout from Mike D'Antoni one minute and 35 seconds into the quarter, with the Rockets lead at just two points. Stephen Curry then hit a three after the timeout to take a one-point lead. The Rockets and Warriors then traded buckets for the next couple minutes, with James Harden hitting two step back threes, which Klay responded to with another three. The Rockets did manage to snag a four point lead at the time of the second timeout with 5:05 left in the quarter. Before that timeout, the Warriors fell back out of rhythm with a Kevin Durant pull-up three in transition and bad offensive possessions from Jordan Bell. With 5:05 left in the quarter, the Rockets led the Warriors 74-70. Kevin Durant nailed a mid range jumper after the timeout, which Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry followed up with HUGE threes to take a five-point lead. The quick run forced another time out from D’Antoni as the Warriors looked to extend their five-point lead in the remaining 2:30 in the quarter. Stephen Curry drained another three immediately after the timeout, and that was the last shot the Warriors made before the end of the quarter, though Nick Young got to the line and nailed 2/3 free throws. The Warriors then allowed Eric Gordon to go coast-to-coast in the last four seconds of the half and got fouled attempting to throw down a buzzer-beating dunk, but he only made 1/2 free throws. The Warriors took command of the game late in the quarter, and had to hold onto their lead for just 12 more minutes to force a Game Seven. Klay Thompson was putting the team on his back, and had 26 points while going 6/11 from three through three quarters. Stephen Curry had 22 points, and hit two massive threes in the quarter. Kevin Durant also had 21 points. James Harden finished the third with 31 points, but his running mate, Eric Gordon, cooled off and had just three points in the quarter. As a team, the Warriors were shooting 45.6% from the floor and 37.9% (11/29) from three, while the Rockets shot 46.6% from the floor and 45.2% (14/31) from three. After the third quarter, the Warriors led the Rockets 84-77.
The Warriors came out in the fourth quarter and got surprisingly solid minutes from Nick Young. Young dropped an absolute DIME to Shaun Livingston under the hoop. Klay Thompson then drained a three from the Golden Gate Bridge to get the lead to nine points and force a timeout from Mike D’Antoni with 9:40 left in the quarter. Now, the offense was not the only reason the Warriors had a lead, because they were getting away with mauling James Harden and the Rockets, but I am fine with that so I’ll leave it be. After the timeout, the Warriors continued to explode, as Curry hit a three in front of the Rockets bench and then told James Harden and Chris Paul about it. The Warriors looked like themselves again, for the first time in a LONG, long time. Steve Kerr called a timeout to get the team to refocus after their big run with 7:37 left in the game and the Warriors leading 94-79. The Warriors then were able to run out the clock and secure the Game Seven that they needed to advance for the NBA Finals. In those final minutes, something happened that was much more important than this game or series, Patrick McCaw checked into the game and made his first shot in over two months, which was great to see. As a team, the Warriors finished the game shooting 49.4% from the floor and 41.1% (16/38) from three, while the Rockets finished shooting 40.3% from the floor and 38.5% (15/39) from three. The Warriors won the game 115-86.
The leading scorer for the Warriors was Klay Thompson. He finished with 35 points on 13/23 shooting, but that included going 9/14 from three. He also had six rebounds, two assists, and four steals. He was the best player on the Warriors tonight. He often gets overlooked because of how great and flashy his teammates are, but he is truly remarkable, and has an affinity for Game Sixes. He has had several incredibly memorable moments in his career, a 37-point quarter, a 60-point game in just three quarters and 11 dribbles, and a 41-point 11-three performance in 2016’s WCF Game Six, but tonight was just as impressive as any of those. He was truly incredible, and was the shot in the arm that the Warriors needed to win this game. He was not China Klay, he was not Dollar-Store Goatee Klay, he was Game Six Klay, he was Big Game Klay, when the Warriors needed him most, he was there to save the season.
While Klay was great, his teammates were also pretty good. Stephen Curry recovered from a sloppy first half to finish with 29 points on 12/23 shooting. He had five threes in the game, and his shooting opened up eh passing lanes for the Warriors once again, which allowed for them to get back into rhythm. Kevin Durant finished with 23 points, which was good. He did get those 23 points on just 6/17 shooting though, so he was not at his best. Draymond Green nearly had a triple-double AND a 5x5 game. He finished with 4 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals, and 5 blocks. The Warriors also got some prediction from their bench too, which was very nice to see. Nick Young had five points, and played very good defense, which was surprising to say the least. Shaun Livingston had six points, Kevon Looney had four points and seven rebounds (five of which were offensive rebounds), and Jordan Bell had three points and six rebounds.
The Rockets got a stellar game from James Harden tonight. He had 32 points on 10/24 shooting, seven rebounds, and nine assists. He nearly had a triple-double, actually, he nearly had a quadruple-double with nine turnovers. His three ball was falling, which was incredibly important for the Rockets, but his teammates could not help him in the second half. Eric Gordon was great in the first half with 16 points, but he finished with 19 points, and looked like he got struck by Thanos and his infinity gauntlet. Trevor Ariza had 14 points on 6/18 shooting while going 2/9 from three. Gerald Green was very solid, and had 11 points on 4/6 shooting. Clint Capela was...not great, again, and I feel like he should be playing better to back up his trash-talk at this point.
The Warriors big three of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant combined to score 87 points, while the entire Houston Rockets’ roster combined to score 86 points. The Warriors defense was incredible after the first quarter, and after giving up 39 points in the quarter, they allowed 47 points in the other 36 minutes of the game.
Klay Thompson saved the Warriors season tonight, and gave them momentum and rhythm heading to the do-or-die Game Seven. We will find out if the team’s great game really meant that they figured something out, or it was a dead cat bounce, either way, I am excited. There are no better two words in sports than Game Seven.
The final game of the Western Conference Finals will be on Monday, May 28th, in Houston at 6 p.m. on TNT.