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Warriors Take Care of Business in Preseason Finale
Thompson Scores 35 to Lead Warriors Past Nuggets
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Not that there was ever any doubt, but Klay Thompson is certainly ready for the regular season to begin. He showed as much on Friday night, scoring 35 points to lead the Warriors to a 119-112 win over the Nuggets in the preseason finale at Oracle Arena.
Thompson’s big night was highlighted by a 15-point third quarter in which he showed off multiple ways to put the rock in the basket. Not only did he connect on four 3-pointers on the night, but he also shot 9-for-14 on shots inside the arc. Furthermore, he led the team with six attempts from the free throw line.
With the win, the Warriors wrapped up a 6-2 preseason. And after stressing the importance of sharing the basketball and limiting turnovers throughout training camp, Head Coach Steve Kerr saw the team’s best results yet. The Dubs shot 51.2 percent from the field and tallied 35 assists on 44 made baskets. In addition, they had just 12 turnovers.
With the five-man combinations on the floor the Warriors, this game most resembled a regular season effort of all the team’s preseason games. The top seven players in terms of minutes played last season – Stephen Curry, Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee, Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green – saw the most court time in this victory, and they all made heavy contributions to the win.
Curry scored 13 of his 17 points in the first half and finished with a game-high 11 assists, while Bogut and Iguodala were dropping dimes all night with eight and seven assists apiece.
Now it’s on to the regular season, and the Warriors will start the 2014-15 campaign up on Wednesday night in Sacramento before returning to Oracle Arena on November 1 for their home opener against the Lakers.
ON BRINGING BACK HIS STARTERS LATE IN THE GAME: "I wanted to get those guys up into the low 30s minutes wise just to get a real dress rehearsal. Conditioning wise I thought it showed – thought we were a little tired down the stretch, but that’s the whole point. It’s the end of training camp and now we’ve got to get into regular season conditioning and the only way to do that is to play a full game. A lot of good things from tonight with 35 assists and 12 turnovers. Our execution could have been better down the stretch, but I’m glad we were in that position. It’s good for us to feel that. Defensively we have to get better – a lot of mistakes. Our effort and our rotations are getting better. All in all, a good night."
ON THE TURNOVERS TONIGHT: "I thought ‘Here we go again’, but then just nine turnovers the rest of the way. As long as we are making sound decisions we are fine. We have really skilled players. I think sometimes when you are that skilled and talented you have a tendency to take more chances. I know that because I was the exact opposite as a player. I wasn’t very talented, so I didn’t take very many chances. I did understand the value of the ball and I think this team is starting to figure that out. If we are just solid with the ball, we are tough to beat because we know we are going to get out offense clicking. We know we have a lot of guys that can score. Defensively, we have to keep working and get better at that end."
ON THEIR PREPARATION FOR THE SEASON OPENER: "We’ll take tomorrow off which will be good for the guys to get some rest. That will give us three good days to prepare for Sacramento and then we are off. It’s exciting. We just need to have a couple of good practice days and put in our prep for the Kings and we’ll be ready to go."
ON GOING TO KLAY THOMPSON DOWN THE STRETCH: "Well, I think Klay (Thompson) is taking another step up this year. Maybe some of that has to do with his summer performance with Team USA, but you can just tell the confidence that he has. He’s so big and strong that he’s just a natural guy to go to down the stretch. Steph (Stephen Curry) obviously on high screens is so difficult to handle and those two guys are more than likely going to be the guys with the ball in their hands. Ideally, you have enough offensive execution where it could go anywhere. David (Lee) has been a big scorer in this league and he’s closed games. I didn’t have Andre (Iguodala) on the floor, obviously he fouled out, but he’s hit one big shot after another in his career. We saw him several times last year with the Warriors. Ideally, you have a team that executes and different guys produce down the stretch, but Klay (Thompson) has the potential to be that prototypical go to guy down the stretch."
ON STARTERS PLAYING IN THE FOURTH QUARTER: "Just to keep establishing a winning culture and we have a few days off before our next game so why not go in there and end the game on a high note and finish with a great rhythm going into an off day."
ON WHAT HAS CHANGED IN HIS GAME: "Just a newfound confidence. Being able to play with all the players I played with this summer and being a great asset on Team USA. I came out here and feel like I’m one of the better guards in the league. I feel if I stay humble and keep working the sky is the limit and I want to shed the stereotype that I’m just a catch and shoot guy I want to show people that I can put the ball of the floor and create for myself."
ON CHANGING THE PERCEPTION OF HIM BEING JUST A CATCH-AND SHOOT PLAYER: "Well I hope so. I have to do it in the regular season and the playoffs. I feel like I have had a great preseason going into Wednesday in great shape and I just want to establish myself as one of the better two-guards in the game. Like I said I have to just keep working and to be that you have to win. We have a great team and I know we are going to do big things this year."
ON HOW THE TEAM RESPONDED TO THE LATE TURNOVERS: "Our team scores at such a rate, we do get a lot of stops and I feel like even when a team makes a run we still usually have a little of a cushion and that was the case tonight. I’m just really excited about how everyone is playing right now and I think guys are accepting their roles well and guys realize what needs to be done to be successful and we just need to keep doing those things. Everybody just needs to step up a little bit more and I think we are going to have a very, very successful start to the year."
ON THE OFFENSE RUNNING THROUGH THE POST: "I think anytime we play through the bigs, we know that defenses are going to clue in on Steph [Stephen Curry] and Klay [Thompson] so I think anytime we go through the bigs I think its beneficial for those two guys. When everyone is sitting around staring at Steph or staring at Klay and they have the ball and all five defenders are looking at them, it’s a lot easier to stop and we’re all moving or cutting and everybody is sharing the ball. After three or four passes now, you have to find where Steph or Klay are and they get a lot easier shots. I can honestly say that none of the guys on this team are concerned with who gets the open shots when we move the ball and somebody gets a good one. As long as we keep playing that way, we are going to be great with the amount of talent and basketball sense that we have on the floor."
ON THE TEAM'S DEPTH: "I think a huge part of the depth that was in question was Festus [Ezeli] and he has proven these last two games that he is ready to be a part of that, and especially at every position when we get Shaun [Livingston] back. We are going to be really deep and we want to play the way we are talking about playing. Getting up and down the floor, you can’t do that with seven guys. That will work for two months, then guys will be on life support. That is really key and that’s one of the reasons we want to play up-tempo because they know we can come at teams in waves. I’m really excited about sharing minutes and sharing the ball and sharing the wealth on both ends, and I think if we do that we can be a very special team."