Without Curry, Modest Klay Is Doing His Part to Crush the Hopes of the Spurs

OAKLAND -- Through two games of their first-round series against San Antonio, the Warriors have had maybe three minutes when they longed for the singular offensive gifts of Stephen Curry.

And it's not that Curry wasn't missed during the other 93 minutes.

He simply wasn't needed during the most relevant of those minutes because Klay Thompson has been busy thrashing the Spurs with such accuracy that Curry would have been utterly gratuitous.

"There's definitely extra pressure, but in my mind, no, I don't (put extra pressure on myself) because that's unwarranted," Thompson said after scoring 31 points in a 116-101 victory in Game 2 of the first-round series. "I don't need to do that.

"Just go out there and by myself, be free-minded and have fun, because it's basketball and it's supposed to be a lot of fun, which it is. And just play hard. No one can make up Steph's contributions individually. That's got to be done as a team. And even then, it's hard, with the way he can shoot the ball."

He's right in indicating Curry is irreplaceable and that it's crucial the team unites without him. But Thompson is profoundly modest in ignoring his part in so far crushing any hopes the Spurs might have had to exploit Curry's absence.

After dropping 27 points in Game on Saturday, Thompson has 58 points in two games on 23-of-33 shooting from the field, including 10-of-14 from deep.

For their efforts in trying an assortment of defenders, from rugged Danny Green, to lengthy DeJounte Murray to pesky Patty Mills, all the Spurs have to show for it is massive load of futility.

"Our guys competed and battled with him," Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge said, "and he hit some tough shots off one leg and had some opportunity bounces."

"You chase Klay all over the place," Manu Ginobili said. "You give him half an inch, he gets it off."

Thompson was not particularly sharp early in Game 2, forcing a couple shots and, at one point, appearing to try to throw himself a pass off the backboard. He was 3-of-7 in the first half.

"Klay didn't seem to have much going in the first half," coach Steve Kerr said. "He hit a couple big baskets for us at the end of the first to keep it to a six-point deficit. He hit a three in the corner and then he hit kind of a runner.

"But his second half was just an explosion."

Thompson poured in 24 points in the second half on 9-of-13 shooting, including 4-of-6 from deep. His 16-point fourth quarter effectively sent the Spurs back to Texas down 2-0 on this best-of-seven series.

Kerr has a theory and it makes sense. He believes Thompson, who fractured his right thumb on March 11 at Minnesota, derived some physical benefit from being forced to the sideline for nearly three weeks.

"He finally got some time off," Kerr said. "Klay has to defend the opponent's best guard night-in, night-out. He never misses a game. He's been in the league seven years, and I don't know how many games he's missed (12 in his first six seasons) but not a lot.

"So I think in hindsight, it probably wasn't the worst thing for him to get a few weeks off because he looks really, really fresh and sharp right now."

The Warriors entered this series believing they could win without Curry. That belief stemmed from the remaining talent, with Thompson and Durant providing most of the scoring. They have been terrific in Games 1 and 2, leading the Warriors to a pair of double-digit victories.

With the playoffs under way and Curry on the bench in fashion gear, cheering on his teammates, there was a measure of concern though. No longer, not with Thompson finding his stroke at precisely the right time.

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