The Golden State Warriors resurrected Klay Thompson, who had not played since Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals following injuries to his ACL and, later, his Achilles, on Sunday and defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 96-82.
The five-time All-Star Thompson returned from his two-and-a-half-year career comatose with 17 points in 20 minutes of play while Stephen Curry scored a game-high 28 points, snapping the Warriors’ two-game losing streak when they hosted the visiting Cavaliers in San Franciso.
Thompson to keep moving forward
Thompson needed only 40 seconds to score his first basket of the season and less than a half to throw down his first dunk and make his first 3-point. He finished 3-for-8 on 3-pointers and 7-for-18 overall from the field in addition to producing three rebounds, one assist and one block after being away after 941 days following the rupture he suffered in his right Achilles in a comeback attempt before the 2020-21 season. Thompson played four five-minute passes in each quarter and shot 3-8 on 3s.
“I was just happy to be out there doing what I love again,” Thompson told NBA TV. “Getting my rhythm back, it feels really good.”
Inspired by the return of their star player, the Warriors led by nine points in the first quarter and 24 in the third before the Cavaliers finally fought back. With 5 assists and 5 rebounds, Curry added 14 of his points in the first quarter that also witnessed him shooting 4-5 on triples. He, however, failed to hit another one in six more attempts. Also looking fresh was Kevon looney who contributed 6 points with 4 steals, 3 assists and 18 rebounds, his new personal record.
Also adding 14 points, this time from the bench, was Jordan Poole, while Mexican Juan Toscano-Anderson made 2 goals, a steal, 3 assists and 4 rebounds in 19 minutes. Toscano-Anderson was appointed by coach Steve Kerr to replace Draymond Green who was injured before the game. He was in the court briefly to pay homage to the returning Thompson.
“I got a lot of old feelings again about game days. It was surreal,” said Thompson whose return was welcomed with deafening roars.
“The ovation to start the game, I just am so grateful for these fans. It was special.”
Rajon Rondo scored a pair of 3-pointers, helping the visitors get within 85-75 with 5:47 to go. Thompson’s third 3-pointer of the night with 3:45 remaining then further helped the Cavaliers at bay.
“I was amazed at his poise out there, his confidence after being out for so long,” Warriors coach Kerr said.
Despite outshooting the Warriors 42.7 percent to 40.2 percent from the field and 29.2 percent to 23.8 percent on 3-pointers, the Cavaliers had to accept defeat.
“I’m never going to forget this night,” added Thompson, who left the court to chants of “Klay! Klay! Klay!”