Klay Thompson continues to ease the pain of disgruntled Warriors fans over the trade exodus of Monta Ellis.
Thompson, the rookie out of Washington State, delivered another strong performance as Ellis' replacement at shooting guard with his latest career-high -- 31 points in a 111-108 victory Saturday over the Sacramento Kings at Oracle Arena.
But as impressive as his scoring was early -- 21 first-half points on 7-of-10 shooting -- it was Thompson's all-around game late that helped the Warriors salvage a win after losing another point guard, this time Nate Robinson late in the first half.
As the Kings tried to clamp down defensively on Thompson late in the game, he surrendered his shooting and instead moved the ball. Both he and fellow rookie Charles Jenkins were big contributors to David Lee's near triple-double of 22 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists.
"(Thompson) made the adjustments," Lee said. "He was killing them on the curl cuts all night, coming off and shooting jumpers. But late, he made a couple great drop-down passes to me, and there would have been another had I rolled on it. He's turned into a complete player."
Thompson played 42 minutes and came within one point of the rookie high for scoring in a game this year. He has now scored in double figures in 12 straight games and is averaging nearly 18 points a game in nine starts.
"The guy's a heck of a player," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "He's a
About the only thing Thompson didn't have much to do with was the sloppy outcome in the final two minutes. Lee scored underneath the basket to give Golden State a 109-106 lead with 1:23 to go, but the Kings' Isaiah Thomas answered with a driving layup with 42 seconds left.
The Warriors appeared to have control of the game when they gained possession with 15.6 seconds left, but Lee was called for a five-second violation on an inbounds. Sacramento had a chance for the game-winning shot but never got it off.
Pressured by Lee, Thomas inexplicably dribbled the ball off his leg and out of bounds with 4.7 seconds left to allow Golden State to escape.
"I just tried to switch on a pick-and-roll, and my plan was just to keep him in front," Lee said. "He tried to cross over and lost the ball. The biggest thing I was trying to do was make him shoot a contested jump shot and not let him get by me."
It worked. The Warriors inbounded the ball, and Lee tossed a long pass to Richard Jefferson for a game-closing dunk. As the first game in a stretch where Golden State will play four games in five days, it should provide a little inspirational juice.
Thompson, to be sure, is providing inspiration however he can, especially with Ellis gone and point guard Stephen Curry out indefinitely with an ankle injury.
"With Steph out of the lineup, our scoring took a big hit so we just have to do it collectively," Thompson said. "I'm just trying to play my game and stay real aggressive, because I've got to score and be a threat out there. When I'm a threat, it opens up opportunities for everybody."
One thing's certain: Thompson doesn't lack for confidence and isn't afraid to say so.
"It's always going to be high, because if you want to succeed in this league, you've got to be confident," he said. "You have to act like you belong out there."
The Warriors built as much as a 13-point lead behind Thompson in an opening half they pretty well controlled from the outset. But with 1:02 left in the second quarter, Robinson went down in a heap under the Kings basket with a strained right hamstring and did not return.
Jackson went to an all-rookie backcourt, getting 24 solid minutes from Jenkins and even asking swingman Dominic McGuire to play the point for a brief stretch.
Once armed with the specialist's evaluation, Curry and Warriors management will meet and discuss a plan regarding what to do about the rest of the season.
To make room on the roster, the Warriors assigned forward Chris Wright to the Dakota Wizards of the D-League.