How Klay Thompson fouling out changed Game 1


In the midst of the Spurs’ 18-2 run to force overtime in San Antonio’s 129-127 Game 1 win over the Golden State Warriors, Klay Thompson’s absence loomed large. Thompson fouled out at the 3:57 mark of the fourth quarter when the Warriors held a 104-89 lead over the Spurs. Thompson finished with 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting and five rebounds.

To that point, Tony Parker was practically a defensive liability for the Spurs. It seemed like whoever they put him on, the Warriors would force feed that player the ball and he would score. Jarrett Jack was the only player San Antonio could really hide Parker on. Thompson, Stephen Curry and Harrison Barnes would just rise up over Parker and get a good look at the basket. And with as good of shooters as Curry and Thompson are, a good look is all they need.

When Thompson fouled out, the Spurs were able to keep Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green on Curry and Barnes defensively. Thought fatigue could’ve played a factor, Curry (who played all but four seconds in this game) shot 2-for-9 from the field for just six points after Thompson fouled out.

What might’ve been more of a key to the Spurs stealing Game 1 was the effect on San Antonio offensively when Thompson fouled out. The Warriors had success for stretches earlier in the season when they put the length of the 6’7″ on Parker. With Thompson hounding Parker in Game 1, the Spurs’ point guard scored 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting from the floor (26.7 percent).

Parker didn’t find trouble getting into the lane against Thompson, but when there Parker was unable to create the separation he normally does against smaller players. Clean looks were hard to come by and Parker grew frustrated by what he felt was excessive contact from the Golden State defenders.

After Thompson picked up his six foul with just under four minutes left, Parker was free to find his shot. TP went on to score 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting in the remainder of the fourth quarter and both overtime periods.

I didn’t watch the TNT broadcast of Monday night’s Game 1, but TNT analyst Chris Webber reportedly said “luckily, they don’t need him anymore” when Thompson fouled out of Game 1. You can’t blame Webber for thinking ahead, I’m sure pretty much everyone watching agreed with him. Unfortunately for the Warriors, Webber couldn’t have been more wrong.

Play-by-play data courtesy of

  • Ryan McShane

    “Luckily for them, they don’t need him for the rest of this game.”

    Less than a minute later:

    “Coach Popovich is one of the best at coming back after a loss – and there’s still a lot of time left in this game – […]”

    – Chris Webber

  • Christopher Sauer


    God bless loveable losers like Chris Webber.

  • NYC

    This is where their youth cost them and our experience allowed us to hang on just long enough to get the opportunity to steal it. Thompson fouled out on a dumb play, bumping Parker out of bounds along the baseline. Parker, freed, goes on a tear. Manu makes a dumb mistake of his own, but has been-there-done-that enough to recover as only Manu can do. I think Mark Jackson panicked and left Curry in the entire game, having no faith in the rest of his team. They paid for it when Curry ran out of gas.

    This is how we’re going to beat them: veteran savvy and leadership. And better coaching.

    So what’s our game plan going forward, guys? We have a problem in that if we assign Kawhi to guarding Curry, who’s Parker guarding? Both Thompson and Barnes was destroying him all night, as Andrew noted in the article. But we need Parker in there collapsing defenses, penetrating, and hitting Js to get the entire team going. So how do we solve this dilemma??

  • Gomezd

    Webber Jinxed GSW big time

  • assistman

    You have to rotate TP’s assignments throughout the game; and you have to throw different defenders at Curry all game, ending with KL on Steph if it comes to that. And this isn’t the last time we’ll need Manu to be A+ clutch this season.

    As I commented on the last post, “The dirty secret about the (“it’s a point guard league”) NBA, is that, in the playoffs PG’s can be rendered ineffective with a big defender a la Bruce Bowen. A big guard to run point is what you need, Magic, MJ, Bryant, Ginobili, Wade, LBJ, to name a few.
    It’s what has always made me nervous about this being the era of “Tony Parker’s team.”

    This problem is going away for Parker and Pop. Perimeter stoppers on the road ahead: Thabo or Tony Allen, and Jimmy Butler or Chalmers/Wade/LBJ. Like I said, this team needs Manu Ginobili.

  • neverthehero

    I know he’s the analyst but he doesn’t bring the oomph when needed during exciting runs like the end of the game.

  • Andrew G

    I’ll take Webber… anyone really, over Reggie Miller. All the broadcasters (Miller is unfortunately beginning to rub off on Webber) seems capable of calling the game, i.e detailing what’s actually happening in the game… except Reggie.

    Miller tells these long winded anecdotes from his career alongside some rehearsed “analytics”, without actually describing what’s happening in front of him. Five minutes into a story, we finally hear that a team is on a 15-0 run, casually mentioned in between pauses of his meaningless stories that all end the same: MILLER DOESN’T WIN A RING. Though, he sure as hell loves to tell us what a team needs to do to get a ring.

  • Sri

    If Tony Parker can’t handle Klay Thompson’s defense how can he handle Sefoloosha’s or Tony Allen’s or Lebron’s defense? They are all better defenders than Klay Thompson is :-(

  • Colin

    No they’re not……..they just have more familiar names. Thompson has done this all year.

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  • SpurredOn

    Klay caused troubles but Tony, like every Spur not named Green or Neal, missed shots they normally make. Let’s see how Tony shoots the rest of the series. Either way, Klay may cause problems but Tony draws fouls. That still works in Spurs’ favor.

  • Forrest Trent Willoughby

    Thompson really gave Parker a lot of trouble in Game 1. Tony seems to usually struggle with bigger defenders and Thompson is no exception. Hopefully the Spurs can figure out a way to free Tony up some as the series goes on.

  • Tyler

    Tony Allen and Lebron aren’t better defenders than Klay Thompson?!?

  • Tyler

    Agreed. He missed numerous step back jumpers and floaters he normally makes. I’d imagine the %’s swing back in his favor over the course of the series.

  • Ray Briggs II

    The Spurs coaching staff has to see how Parker can struggle against long defenders like Thompson. Why don’t they run more screens or double screens to get him onto a different defender and exploit different matchups? It’s frustrating to watch Parker drive over and over again against a big defender only to be shut down.

  • Len

    I’ll throw this idea out there.

    Have Tony and Manu switch roles. That way Parker gets as much time as possible on the floor with Jack.

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  • Colin

    You’re right Lebron is in a whole ‘nother conversation by himself. However, I’ll take Thompson as equal or greater than Sefolosha or Allen any day of the week.

  • Colin

    Webber’s an idiot. What would guys like this do for a living if they didn’t play basketball?

    Also, Steve Kerr killed me during last year’s playoffs too, that guy should stay away from a microphone and find something else to do. Can’t stand him either.

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  • NYC

    I like the idea of Parker on Jack. A no-brainer if you ask me. Don’t know how that would work having Manu as starting pg. I don’t think Pop has ever tried that, and it’s unlikely he would now unless we were really desperate.

  • NYC

    You bring up a good point: Tony also draws fouls. While Thompson did a tremendous job shutting down Parker, he also fouled out of the game. Parker promptly goes on a rampage, and suddenly the entire Spurs offense is humming again.

    I think that should be our plan: hold steady, leave Parker in there and continue to attack the basket, Thompson be damned. Parker might get blocked and roughed up a lot, but he’ll also draw fouls. Eventually, Thompson will have to sit, by coach or by ref. That’s when we make a few runs.

  • Tyler

    What’s wrong with Kerr? Of all the color guys, he’s pretty good – he understands the game from a player and FO point of view. Van Gundy is obviously good too. I’d rather listen to either Kerr or Van Gundy over Sean Elliott – and I’m a homer.

  • Andrew G

    Van Gundy is unbearable. I’d rather listen to a baby cry for three hours. His commentary revolves around saying every other player/coach should be in the hall of fame, followed by some 40 year old reference all of three people understand. Rinse, and repeat every 2 minutes.

    Elliott will actually commend the opposition despite working for the Spurs. I appreciate that unbiased commentary alongside his chemistry with Bill Land. They do an excellent job, but I’m a homer so who cares.

  • Tyler

    So you listen to the game on mute?

  • Andrew G

    I think the fact that I’m giving descriptions on what each broadcaster’s tendencies are should answer your question.

  • Colin

    You’re probably right in that Kerr is better than Elliot, however, I specifically mentioned last year’s playoffs. He was soooo pro-OKC that he wasn’t even trying to hide it throughout every game he commentated rounds 2-3.

  • Andrew A. McNeill

    What reason would Kerr have to be pro-OKC?

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  • Colin

    How would I know if there was a reason? This is just my observation

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