OAKLAND -- Klay Thompson doesn't fret much about outside evaluations of his game performances, because he knows his most staunch ally is also his toughest critic, and he's right at the top of the speed dial.
It's his dad, Mychal Thompson, a former NBA No. 1 pick who played 12 seasons in the league and contributed to two Los Angeles Lakers title teams in 1987 and 1988. The younger Thompson calls his father after virtually every game for an assessment of his performance, and he usually gets a tough-love critique.
Naturally, the Warriors' second-year guard couldn't wait to call his dad after a 34-point, 14-rebound night Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference semifinals. The Warriors won 100-91 to tie the series at one game apiece.
"He said I should have had 40, that I missed too many easy layups," Thompson said with a grin. "But that's just the basketball player in him. He also said it was a great performance and that he was very proud of me."
A lot of people are proud of Thompson in the wake of his remarkable night. He put himself in some pretty fine company statistically. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he joined just three other guards who in the last 25 years scored that many points and hauled in that many rebounds in a playoff game -- Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter.
The only debate regarding Thompson at the moment is whether to talk about his offense or his defense. But after hitting 8 of 9 from beyond the 3-point arc in Game 2, the needle naturally swung to the offensive side Thursday.
"I felt like Steph Curry out there," he said. "It's something where you hit a couple and you get a great rhythm going, and after you make five or six, it's almost like a freebie when you pull up somewhere. It was a lot of fun."
Thompson bristled, however, when it was suggested by a TV reporter that he'd had a poor series against the Denver Nuggets and inquired as to how he reinvented himself.
"I thought I had a few good games in the first round where I shot the ball well," he said. "I had some off games as well, but my defense was always there. I haven't really been focusing on my offense, because I've been trying to be as consistent as possible on the defensive end. That's one area of the game you can control completely."
To be sure, it's the plight of many great shooters -- they don't get much credit for what they do at the other end. Thompson was a defensive stopper against Denver point guard Ty Lawson, and so far, he's been a huge headache so far for Spurs point guard Tony Parker.
Parker, who loves getting in deep to the basket, hasn't been able to get much at all against the Warriors' lanky 6-foot-7 guard. It's no coincidence that the Spurs' Game 1 rally -- led by Parker -- didn't really take off until Thompson fouled out with 3:57 to go and Golden State still up by 16.
Thompson knows he won't win every battle against the relentless Parker, but by winning his share, he can severely undermine San Antonio's lethal inside game, particularly with Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli as a second line of defense under the basket.
"Just from playing against him six times this year and also last year, I know his tendencies," Thompson said of Parker. "I know what he likes to do; he loves to live in the paint. The way you have to make Tony Parker beat you is to contest the tough shots. He's a great midrange shooter, but we'd rather have that than layups."
"He's doing a great job," Curry said of his backcourt mate. "For a 6-7 guy, he's quick laterally, and even against a guy like Parker he can contest his paint jump shots and layups, try to make him shoot over him and chase him all around the floor."
Generally, Thompson said he made the commitment to ratchet up his defensive prowess last summer, working four days a week with assistant coach Darren Erman on closeout and shuttle drills and also learning how to maximize his height advantage. It's paying off big-time now.
"I feel like I'm a whole different level defender than I was last year," Thompson said. "I've come to like playing defense. It's fun to try and shut someone down. What I learned this year is you can't just put all your stock in shooting. If you play defense and rebound well, you can affect other aspects of the game."
Coach Mark Jackson maintains that Thompson was a born shooter, but the defensive part -- particularly the ability to defend quick, shifty point guards -- required considerable work.
"It didn't happen overnight," Jackson said. "What you're seeing is a product of long hours, long days, watching film, breaking stuff down, making mistakes. Klay takes pride in it, and he has taken it personal. It's just great to see."