Klay Thompson scored 17 points on his return from two devastating injuries that kept him sidelined for more than two and a half years, leading the Golden State Warriors to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 96-82 on Sunday night.
Thompson was seven out of 18 from the field and three out of eight from the three-point range. He added three rebounds, an assist and a steal in 20 minutes as he walked off the field to a thunderous ovation followed by chants of ‘Klay! Klaas!’ from the Chase Center audience.
The five-time All-Star finally made his long-awaited return, achieving two career milestones – 12,000 points and 1,800 three-pointers.
Stephen Curry had 29 points, five rebounds and five assists, and Jordan Poole added 14 points for Golden State. The Warriors broke a two-game losing streak to tie Phoenix for the NBA lead at 30-9.
Thompson missed 941 days and hadn’t played since he tore the ACL in his left knee in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against Toronto. While recovering from surgery for that injury, he tore only his right Achilles tendon in November 2020
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His 40-second running layup in Golden State’s 96-82 win over Cleveland on Sunday night was a sign that the five-time All-Star is feeling fine — even if coach Steve Kerr has set the game for someone else.
“He wasn’t shy, was he?” said Kerr. “Not that we’d ever expect Klay to be shy. I didn’t set up the first piece for him, but for him to catch it and continue playing. I should have known better.’
“I was so excited to see a lane to the basket that I just took the opportunity,” Thompson said of that first game.
“Then I thought it was going to be one of those nights when I’d be unconscious. I didn’t shoot as well as I would have liked, but I’m so glad I can even look at the stats and see my name there. It’s a long time ago. I’m not going to say it equates to winning a championship, but it came pretty close.’
Thompson got off to a slow start, but showed much of the flash that made him a vital part of Golden State’s three championship teams from 2015-18.
After spending some time on a stationary bike, Thompson started the third quarter and made three consecutive shots, including his 1,800th.