NBA

Klay Thompson unable to connect on game-tying 3-pointer after Warriors run slick out-of-bounds play in Dallas

The Golden State Warriors saw their three-game win streak snapped on Tuesday with a 116-113 loss in Dallas, where Luka Doncic was too much with the fifth 40-point triple-double of his career (41 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists). 

It was a pretty wild game that featured some incredible play- and shotmaking on both sides, namely from Doncic and Stephen Curry, the two leading scorers in the league. Over the final nine minutes, the score was within one possession for all but 15 seconds, over which the Mavericks enjoyed a brief four-point lead. The biggest margin either team enjoyed throughout the entire fourth quarter was five. 

With 4.4 seconds left, Dorian Finney-Smith had a chance to seal it for Dallas with a pair of free throws, but he missed the second one, leaving the door open for the Warriors trailing by three. Golden State called timeout, and Steve Kerr drew up a misdirection play from a sideline out-of-bounds to get Klay Thompson a wide-open look at a game-tying 3, but he was unable to connect. 

Kerr is as good as any coach in the league at drawing up these after-timeout plays. He has the advantage of Curry’s gravity to work with, and he’s a master of using that gravity against the defense to create open looks for guys like Thompson and Jordan Poole

On this design, Thompson started on the baseline, curled up around the top at the same time that Poole curled around the top. As they crossed paths, Poole acted like a wide receiver executing a pick play, running straight through the path of Thompson’s defender. Poole’s defender should have probably switched onto Thompson, but that is where the misdirection came in. 

The flow of the play moved toward the in-bounder, and defenders had a hard time reversing course to chase a guy who had curled away from the ball, as Thompson was. The final piece is the Curry screen on the back side. No way was Curry’s man going to detach to switch onto Thompson, who was suddenly unoccupied as he caught a perfect pass over the top of all the action. 

It was a terrific play design that resulted in the best shot the Warriors could’ve hoped to get in that situation. All eyes were going to be on Curry. It was going to be hard to spring him free, though Kerr did manage to do that on a similar action from the opposite side of the court in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. But like Thompson, Curry was unable to knock that shot down (which wasn’t quite as clean a look as Thompson got here). 

The miss punctuated a tough game for Thompson, who was visibly frustrated after many of his misses. He finished with five points on 2-for-9 shooting, including 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. This performance aside, Thompson has been starting to regain his form. Over his four previous games, he had shot 60 percent from 3-point range on 10 attempts per game (24 for 40). 



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