Associated Press

Warriors not worried about Klay Thompson’s shooting slump as long as he keeps defending

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OAKLAND — The Finals did not shake Klay Thompson out of his shooting slump. In Game 1 he was 3-of-13 from the field for six points and he missed all five of his attempts from beyond the arc.

Nobody on the Warriors much cares — and not just because they won Game 1 in a rout anyway. It’s because Thompson is doing what every coach from YMCA youth leagues up through the NBA preaches — if you’re not scoring points, contribute in other ways. For Thompson, that is defense: Cleveland players guarded by Thompson shot 1-of-12 in Game 1, according to ESPN.

Thompson himself will take that tradeoff.

“If I score six points a game and it gets us four wins and an NBA championship, I can do that every year,” Thompson said.

His shooting slump goes back to the San Antonio series, and even beyond. Thompson is shooting 29 percent over his last five games. The best way to understand it is to look at his shot chart from the last five games.

A lot of fans want to attribute the struggles to the fact Kevin Durant is now on the team, so Thompson has slid down the offensive pecking order in Golden State. Nobody with the team is buying that.

“He averaged more points this year than last year, he averaged more shots, so I think we always look at the last game or the last week, but I don’t feel the need to overreact to any of it,” Warriors GM Bob Myers said. “I told him to have fun, it’s the NBA Finals…

“He’s a great shooter. It’s like a hitter with a great swing, they’re gonna start hitting. I’d tell him don’t change anything, just keep doing what you’re doing.”

Thompson is doing just that. He was asked how his approach to Game 2 will differ from Game 1.

“Same one I had Game 1 — just be aggressive, don’t settle for good shots but hunt for great shots,” Thompson said. “Try to get a few quick ones early; that always helps. That’s about it. Just play hard and I’ll be fine.”

When Thompson missed a couple he would normally make to start a game, he starts to hunt twos at times and takes more difficult ones than he needs. He’s a shooter, trying to shoot his way out of the slump. But the Warriors can live with that because of everything else he brings to the court.

“Well, if he’s not making shots, he’s still a respected shooter and nobody’s going to give him open shots if he starts to miss,” Kevin Durant said. “So we know the gravity he pulls when he’s out there, and his movement off of the ball is one of the main reasons why we’re a good team. And his defense is the reason why we’re one of the best defensive teams in the league as well.”

“The most important thing is the way he’s defending,” Draymond Green said. “We have enough guys who can score on this team that if one guy can’t get it going, we can go other places. Then our ball movement and our flow allows everyone else to get baskets as well. We’re not just going to say, `Oh, man, we really need to get Klay going.”‘

The Cavaliers should be worried if Thompson gets going — on a team loaded with some of the greatest shooters in the game, nobody gets as white hot for a quarter or a half as Thompson. He is capable of insane numbers.

“He’s very competitive, but he doesn’t show it like Draymond shows it,” Myers said. “His personality is to hold himself to a high standard, he’s kind of a perfectionist, but at the same time his perfection is he wants to play well for his teammates… his demeanor is he just wants to win, but he wants to do well, everyobody does.

“I think he’s focused more on our record than his own statistics. I know he wants to do better, but we’re not really worried about it.”

“Well, it is easy to overlook my shooting woes when we have been winning like this,” Thompson said. “So if we keep this up, it’s great, I can live with this all day. But I’m such a perfectionist, I try to hold myself to such a high standard that, as a competitor, sometimes it does drive you a little to the edge to be better. But you just have to keep everything in front of you.”

Report: Suns send Eric Bledsoe home, expect to trade him

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In a shocking twist, the Suns firing Earl Watson did not end the dysfunction in Phoenix.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Bledsoe:

That is a first-rate tweet by Bledsoe. It’s great that he’s having fun with the wild situation, because the rest of us sure are amused peering in.

This was always going to be a long season in Phoenix, but things got out of hand in a hurry. The 0-3 Suns have been outscored by 92 – the worst three-game start in NBA history by 16 points. Now, comes the fallout.

At 27, Bledsoe was getting to be a little too old for a rebuild centered on Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and T.J. Warren. The Suns could have dealt Bledsoe in the offseason. Now, they’re negotiating from a position of weakness.

Bledsoe is a good starting point guard when healthy. He’s earning a reasonable $14.5 million this season and due $15 million in the final year of his contract next season. There should be suitors, and Phoenix can gain long-term assets while stepping up its tank.

But this sure seems like a crisis-control move more than anything else.

Willy Hernangomez ‘mad’ about falling from Knicks rotation

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Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.

But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.

Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.

Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:

“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”

The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.

There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.

But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.

Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.

Report: Eric Bledsoe requested trade from Suns before season

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Suns guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted yesterday:

In light of Phoenix’s 0-3 start and Earl Watson getting fired yesterday, that sure looks like a trade request. Still, there’s risk in making assumptions about vague tweets.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

Why wouldn’t Bledsoe want out? The 27-year-old is in his prime and stuck on a young team that would rather tank than play him.

It’ll be interesting to see how Bledsoe explains the tweet. He previously paid lip service to his situation in Phoenix, but it appears he’s ready to open up. On the other hand, public trade requests typically draw fines from the NBA.

Another Hornets backup PG injured

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Hornets backup point guard Michael Carter-Williamsout.

Nicolas Batum, who handled a lot of playmaking with Charlotte’s second units – out.

Julyan Stone, another Hornets backup point guard – out.

Hornets release:

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that guard Julyan Stone has suffered a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring. The injury occurred in practice on Sunday, Oct. 22 and he did not travel with the team to Milwaukee.  Stone is listed as out for tonight’s game against the Bucks and his expected recovery time is estimated at four to six weeks.

The Hornets have been outscored by an astounding 35.8 points per 100 possessions without starter Kemba Walker, producing an offensive rating of just 61.4. That’s in just 23 minutes, but the problem dates back to last season, when Charlotte was outscored by 7.0 points per 100 possessions with a 100.7 offensive rating sans Walker.

Now, the Hornets have little choice but to turn to rookie Malik Monk. Monk is a scoring guard, but his 6-foot-3 size means he has at least worked on playing point guard. Is he ready to play the position full-time for a team eying the playoffs. Probably not, but he’ll just have to do his best to keep Charlotte afloat in the few minutes Walker rests.