SAN FRANCISCO — Klay Thompson is right back to knocking down timely shots that help decide games and playing stingy defense on the other end.
Thompson hit the biggest shot yet of his 2 1/2-year injury comeback, smoothly sinking a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to send the Golden State Warriors to a 110-106 victory over Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night.
“It felt amazing, it really did. I missed that feeling,” Thompson said. “It felt absolutely amazing.”
Irving wasn’t done and made a 3 of his own moments later and scored 32 points while hearing boos from the Bay Area crowd directed at the unvaccinated Nets star.
Thompson finished with 16 points. Stephen Curry hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 5:09 left and five free throws over the final 1:44 to score 19 points as Irving kept delivering on the other end without the injured Kevin Durant and James Harden.
“It’s important for Klay to feel those big moments. It’s been 2 1/2 years,” coach Steve Kerr said.
Andrew Wiggins contributed 24 points and eight rebounds as the Warriors made key late stops, including Irving’s missed reverse layup try with a minute left. Jordan Poole added 17 points and six assists off the bench.
Brooklyn’s Patty Mills connected on three clutch 3-pointers in the final 9:46, tying the game at 96 with 4:42 remaining and finishing with 24 points.
After Wiggins missed a 3 with 30 seconds left, Mills converted two free throws after a foul.
Harden was a late scratch for the Nets with a strained right hand that flared up Friday shooting and lifting weights.
Irving gets to play in road games only given New York’s vaccination requirement but was booed loudly by the Bay Area crowd during pregame introductions. With San Francisco’s vaccination mandate for large indoor events, he should have been the lone unvaccinated person allowed inside Chase Center.
Curry went 6 for 10 from deep during Thursday’s 124-115 victory over Minnesota after going 3 for 23 on 3s his previous two games. He was 3 of 10 from long range Saturday and added eight assists and seven rebounds.
Curry missed his first three 3s and had just two points after one quarter, when the Warriors got 14 points from Wiggins on 6-of-9 shooting to go ahead 31-20. Curry was 1 for 7 in the first half. He hit his first 3 21 seconds into the third as the Warriors went on a 20-9 run to go ahead 74-56 at the 5:51 mark.
Durant didn’t make the trip as the 2017 and ’18 NBA Finals MVP with Golden State nurses a left knee injury. Brooklyn won 134-117 at Chase Center on Feb. 13 last year in Durant’s return.
Golden State was down to 10 players with injuries and rookie Moses Moody‘s assignment to the G League Santa Cruz Warriors but did enough to wrap up an impressive seven-game homestand at 6-1.
Still, the Warriors so appreciate Thompson’s on-court presence again.
“I think I’m figuring out how to play well with these guys and vice versa,” Thompson said. “It’s hard to simulate that when you’re on the sideline watching.”
Having Irving for only road games hasn’t been that tough for coach Steve Nash to navigate given how many injuries Brooklyn has had.
“It’s great having him back. We’ve had so many injuries and interruptions this year, availability issues, to add a player his caliber, even if it’s just on the road has been much needed and been great for our group,” Nash said. “Fortunately, the reality of the last 18 months for us is that we’ve never had an extended run of health. So to have a player that plays on the road and at home is not that different than what we face week to week anyway.”