Thompson sparks Warriors past Rockets 106-97By ANTONIO GONZALEZ, AP Sports Writer Monday, Feb 13, 2012
The next guard in the rotation is making a future decision a little easier on both.
Rookie reserve Klay Thompson had 14 points and sparked a late run with fellow guards Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, leading the Warriors past the Rockets 106-97 on Sunday night for their second straight victory over a Western Conference playoff contender.
Thompson, selected 11th overall out of Washington State, shot 4 of 6 from 3-point range in his latest sharp-shooting effort. After a slow start this season, he is 12 of his last 16 from beyond the arc.
“The thing I love about him is nothing bothers him,” said Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who was stunned last week when Thompson didn’t make the roster for the rookie-sophomore game during All-Star weekend.
“It’s absolutely funny,” Jackson added. “He doesn’t care. He’s a big-time shooter, but he’s a big-time competitor and an underrated defender, underrated passer.
“It’s scary to think just how good he’s going to be.”
Ellis had 33 points and seven assists and David Lee added 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Warriors. But it was Thompson and Curry, who also scored 14 points, providing some big shots late to help Golden State upset another top team.
The Warriors (10-14) also won at Denver on Thursday night.
“We want to get on a little win streak here and get back in the playoff hunt,” Thompson said. “We’re more than capable right now.”
Kevin Martin started to break out of a recent shooting slump with 28 points and Luis Scola had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Rockets (16-12), whose three-game winning streak ended. Houston is 3-2 on its current road stretch and has a chance to head home with a winning trip Tuesday at Memphis.
“It just seemed to me like the whole night it felt like we were playing in 8 inches of water,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “We just couldn’t get going.”
The Warriors pulled away in the fourth quarter with a mix of substitutes and starters.
Ekpe Udoh came off the bench and finished with a strong layup at the rim, drawing a foul on Chase Budinger to convert a three-point play. Thompson followed with a 3-pointer on the next possession, Lee added a put-back dunk and a three-point play and Golden State opened up a 93-80 lead with 7:24 remaining.
Too late and too much for Houston to come back.
The Rockets scored six straight capped by Patrick Patterson’s tip to quickly close within seven and give Golden State a brief scare. Then, Curry dribbled along the baseline and finished with an acrobatic, one-handed reverse layup underneath the rim despite getting sent tumbling to the hardwood by Scola. Curry made the free throw for the three-point play to put Golden State back in front by 10 and seal the victory.
The two franchises suddenly tied together by a similar move are trying to make their own marks this season.
Lin was waived by Golden State in December—in large part because of Thompson’s and fellow rookie Charles Jenkins’ presence—after splitting last season between the Warriors and the NBA Development League. Houston picked the point guard up for a couple of weeks before cutting him, and the Knicks decided to give him a look.
All Lin has done since is help New York to five straight victories and engulfed the NBA in swift and stunning fashion. So much so that Rockets coach Kevin McHale acknowledged he went to a Bay Area sports bar Saturday night to watch Lin lead the Knicks past the Minnesota Timberwolves, where McHale had previously coached.
Sunday’s matchup had little of the same intrigue.
After going scoreless for almost three minutes to start the game, the Rockets scored 13 straight—including the last six points by Scola—to take a 13-5 lead. Martin also made 3 of his first 4 from beyond the arc to put Houston ahead by nine points later in the first quarter.
The Warriors whittled the deficit down in a hurry behind some strong 3-point shooting of their own. Golden State made eight of 13 from long range before the half, taking an eight-point lead during one stretch with Curry leading the sparkling shooting display.
Both teams settled down and neither created much separation until Golden State pulled away in the fourth quarter behind Thompson and a flurry of 3-pointers. The Warriors finished 13 for 24 from beyond the arc.
“The good news is that if he continues to play like he’s playing and continues to work hard, he’ll be in the big show,” Jackson said. “He won’t have to worry about freshman-sophomore games.”
And the Warriors certainly won’t have to worry about missing out on the next big thing.
Notes: McHale (TNT) and Jackson (ABC/ESPN) both left the broadcast table for NBA head coaching jobs this season. Asked what enticed them to leave broadcasting, McHale said: “I like the butterflies before the game. I like being in the fight. There’s nothing like being in the scrap.”… Warriors F Dominic McGuire was inactive with left knee soreness. … Houston’s Jonny Flynn sat out with a lower back injury.
Follow Antonio Gonzalez at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP