Klay Thompson came off the bench for the first time in 12 years and scored a season-high 35 points on Thursday to lead Golden State over Utah 140-137.

The 34-year-old American guard, who has helped the Warriors capture four NBA titles, also reached the NBA career 15,000-point milestone as Golden State (27-26) won for the eighth time in 10 games.

“Klay coming off the bench gives us a lot of firepower,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of the move. “We’ll give it a little look and see where it goes from there.”

Thompson, who had not been a Golden State reserve since March 2012 as an NBA rookie, was himself replaced as a starter by a rookie, Brandin Podziemski, who scored 13 points.

Thompson hit 13-of-22 shots from the floor, 7-of-13 from 3-point range, and made the adjustment well according to Kerr.

“He handled everything beautifully,” Kerr said. “The way he came out — determined, competitive — that’s not easy, to come off the bench for the first time in (more than) 11 years. It’s difficult.

“But Klay is a champion. He’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met. He responded accordingly and played a great game.”

Draymond Green added 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting while Golden State sharpshooter Stephen Curry had only 16 points, going 4-of-14 and just 2-of-8 beyond the arc after hitting at least seven 3-pointers in each of his past four games.

Utah’s Keyonte George, however, went 9-of-16 from 3-point range, tying the NBA rookie record for most 3-pointers in a game.

Collin Sexton led Utah with 35 points while George added 33.

“We made a lot of mistakes down the stretch and gave them a chance,” Kerr said. “We were literally just throwing the ball to them over and over again.”

A John Collins dunk lifted Utah within 138-137 with 41 seconds remaining, but Curry sank two free throws with 2.1 seconds to play and Sexton missed a tying 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

“Everything in the second half was really bad,” Podziemski said. “We figured out a way to get it done. Definitely doesn’t feel like we won but it will go in the win column for sure.”

At Portland, Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards scored 34 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 23 to lead the Timberwolves over the host Trail Blazers 128-91 — extending Portland’s losing streak to six games.

The T-Wolves opened a 44-14 lead after the first quarter, hitting 68% of their shots, and cruised to victory, improving the NBA’s second-best record to 39-16, boosting their Western Conference lead over Oklahoma City to 1.5 games.

– ‘Some guys in Cabo’ –

Ziaire Williams scored a career-high 27 points and 19-year-old rookie G.G. Jackson added 27 off the bench to spark the Memphis Grizzlies over visiting Milwaukee 113-110.

“It’s the best I’ve ever shot in my life,” Jackson said. “Once you have your jump shot, it opens everything else.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 35 points on 15-of-17 shooting and added 12 assists while Damian Lillard added 24 points for the Bucks.

The Grizzlies connected on 76% of their shots in the third quarter, outscoring the Bucks 37-28 to seize a 94-85 lead, but missed nine of their first 10 in the fourth quarter while the Bucks went on a 12-2 run for a 100-98 lead.

Memphis, however, answered with a 15-4 run for a 113-104 lead in the dying seconds.

Milwaukee’s Malik Beasley sank back-to-back 3-pointers to pull within 113-110 with 29 seconds remaining. But after Memphis was whistled for an offensive foul, Grizzlies defenders forced Lillard into a desperate half-court final shot that missed at the buzzer.

“We had some guys here. We had some guys in Cabo,” Bucks coach Doc Rivers said, hinting some players were pondering vacations at Mexican resort Cabo San Lucas.

The Bucks, 35-21 but only 3-7 under new coach Rivers, reportedly will sign veteran Italian free agent Danilo Gallinari, a 35-year-old forward in his 14th NBA season.

With AFP

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