Klay Thompson left the court first, and his pain showed as he walked gingerly through the tunnel.
Was it his hamstring injury? Was it the Warriors’ Game 4 loss that has them on the brink of elimination in the NBA Finals?
Safe guess: Yes.
After missing Game 3, Thompson returned amid increased pressure Friday and delivered an amazing performance of poise and perseverance. He scored 28 points – tied for the most ever after missing the previous NBA Finals game.
Here’s every time someone missed a Finals game then scored double digits in the next one:
Thompson tied Kobe Bryant, who suffered an ankle injury in Game 2 of the 2000 NBA Finals, missed Game 3 then returned in Game 4. Bryant scored 28 points to lead the Lakers to an overtime victory of the Pacers.
Golden State didn’t fare as well, losing to the Raptors. But no blame should fall on Thompson, whose toughness is beyond reproach.
Incredibly, he played 42 minutes. The Warriors weren’t good enough in that time, getting outscored by seven with him on the court. But they were far worse otherwise – -6 in six minutes.
Thompson shot 5-of-8 on 2-pointers and 6-of-10 on 3-pointers. He was Golden State’s only dependable offensive threat until Curry got going late.
Thompson’s teammates shot just 2-of-17 on 3-pointers. (Curry made both on nine attempts.)
The banged-up Warriors just haven’t put everything together. Curry was great in Game 3. Thompson excelled in Game 4. But both outings will unfortunately be forgotten aspects of Toronto wins.
Still, Thompson proved his mettle Friday.
“You love to go to war with guys like that,” Curry said.
Barring a setback, Curry will have that opportunity in Game 5 Monday. But, unless Golden State gets it together quickly, it might be the last time this season.