Fueled by his desire to help the Golden State Warriors in halting their deteriorating road record, Klay Thompson activated his sizzling hands to blaze the defending champs for a 121-108 Monday night over the Houston Rockets.
Thompson contributed 29 points, including a clutch three-pointer to put the icing on the top of the cake of the Warriors’ victory over the late comeback attempts of the young team. Though the matchup was narrow in the first three quarters, the Dubs widened their gap over the Rockets courtesy of multiple scoring blitzes.
Asked in postgame about his mentality heading to the game knowing that Golden State urgently needs a road win, Thompson took an interesting inspiration that kept him going for the entire game.
“I actually told myself, I was pretending I’m playing [the] 2018 Rockets where it was a battle every time we used to play those guys,” Thompson said. “They’re still young, they’re talented and you can’t take anybody lightly, especially at this point in the season.”
“Every win we get is a huge win so I think we all understood that going into the game. Although it was close there, I think we did a good job in the second half of playing our brand of ball.”
During the height of their dominance in the last decade which was fortified by the addition of Kevin Durant, it was the Rockets team being bannered by James Harden who bravely presented a haunt and competitive fight in front of the dynastic Warriors squad.
Their heated saga reached the apex during the 2017-18 season, wherein Harden delivered an MVP-calibre season as he was surrounded by formidable units in secondary star Chris Paul, rim-protecting Clint Capela, sixth-man gunner Eric Gordon, and versatile 3-and-D wings of P.J. Tucker and Trevor Ariza. Guided by offensive maestro Mike D’Antoni, these robust and complementary cagers were combined by then-lead executive Daryl Morey to fulfill his one, marvelous mission – to take down the Warriors.
That season, the stars were aligned for both the Warriors and Rockets to exactly meet at the Western Conference Finals. Highly reliant on shooting, isolations, and defensive switches, they created a modern showdown for the ages given the intensifying narratives and the golden stakes of who will win it all.
The Rockets came up close when they went up 3-2 on the series, but the hamstring injury of Paul late in Game 5 ultimately walloped their chances to put the finisher against the Dubs.
Eventually, the series went to a deciding Game 7. It could have been the game of their lives for Harden and his Rockets team, but they delivered one of the most blunderous cold snaps in NBA history – registering a record of 27-straight missed three-pointers.
Golden State emerged victorious in front of its greatest adversity and proceeded to win its third title in four years. The following year, they again dismantled H-town and took a dominating margin over their feisty rivals.
And as four years have quickly passed through, Thompson can only feel old that he is now facing a new and youthful generation of the Rockets club. With Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, and Jabari Smith Jr., Houston is currently taking its time for a gradual rebuilding phase following the Harden era.
“It is strange looking over there how young their team is,” Thompson continued in his presser. “The Rockets I used to play in the 2010s were seasoned vets, all littered throughout that roster. Obviously, James is one of the best players in that franchise’s history and they brought on CP too.
“They had such a great team that almost knocked us off and I had a lot of respect for those Rockets teams and now I just feel old playing these young bucks.”
Despite not clinching a title because of tragic and unwanted events that took place, the 2017-18 Rockets are forever etched in the NBA record books as arguably the greatest team ever that has failed to win it all.
As such, they will also be remembered as that very lone team that went toe-to-toe and nearly prevailed over the greatest collection of talents in the association’s history.