Photo: Steve Dykes / Associated Press
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PORTLAND, Ore. — Warriors guard Klay Thompson dealt with one of the most pronounced shooting slumps of his career by pretending it didn’t exist.
Asked repeatedly during the week about his struggles from beyond the arc, Thompson got uncharacteristically defiant, asserting, “I don’t think it’s a shooting slump. I really don’t.” After helping propel Golden State to a 115-105 win over the Trail Blazers on Saturday night at Moda Center, Thompson can stop fielding questions about his shooting.
In 34 minutes, Thompson scored a team-high 32 points on 12-for-21 shooting (4-for-5 from three-point range). His team-high seven fourth-quarter points helped put the exclamation point on the Warriors’ first victory in three games.
After Portland called for time after he hit a three-pointer with 5:04 left to give Golden State a 105-89 lead, Thompson looked at his right hand and said, “I missed you!” as he walked to the team huddle. It was a fair response for a world-class shooter who has been laboring at his craft much of the season.
Thompson entered Saturday shooting a career-worst 33.3 percent from three-point range. Over his previous six games, he was averaging 12.3 points and shooting just 6-for-31 (19.4 percent) from deep.
The extended rut became a major story line as pundits tried to dissect an underwhelming Warriors season. Typically one of the league’s more humble All-Stars, Thompson detailed his track record when asked about his shooting struggles Thursday, asserting, “I’m one of the best shooters to ever play” and “I’ve done too many great things to ever doubt myself, stuff no one else has ever done.”
He wasn’t wrong. Perhaps the greatest three-point shooter in NBA history not named Stephen Curry, Thompson owns league records for three-pointers in a game (14) and three-pointers in a quarter (nine) as well as the playoff record for threes in a game (11).
His bounce-back performance Saturday helped quiet some of the doomsday projections about Golden State beginning to surface on social media. Two nights after enduring a 110-109 overtime loss to this same Portland team at Oracle Arena, the Warriors delivered one of their more complete showings of the season.
Golden State shot 50 percent from the field, 12-for-25 (48 percent) from three-point range and 23-for-28 from the free-throw line. In addition to dishing out 27 assists, it committed only 12 turnovers. Curry (25 points, eight assists) and Kevin Durant (25 points) helped Thompson and the Warriors overcome a 40-point gem from Portland guard and Oakland native Damian Lillard.
Gone are the charmed days in which the Warriors could rely on an immense talent advantage to win games. As it grapples with what head coach Steve Kerr calls “the real NBA,” Golden State is learning that solid execution no longer necessarily translates to blowouts.
Saturday was no exception. Thanks to 11 offensive rebounds, the Blazers attempted 11 more shots than the Warriors to keep things interesting much of the night. Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala — frustrated that he didn’t get a shot off before the buzzer — was ejected at halftime after heaving the ball into the stands. It wasn’t until late in the third quarter, when Golden State rode a 10-0 spurt to a 15-point lead, that it pulled away for good.
The lasting image was Thompson — ever the unintentional comedian — talking to his hand. Because to be at their best come the playoffs, the Warriors need him connecting from deep.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/warriors/article/Klay-Thompson-snaps-out-of-shooting-slump-as-13498126.php.