Klay Thompson responds to benching exactly the way Warriors would have hoped

For the first time since his rookie season, Klay Thompson came off the bench last night. Safe to say, this move worked out pretty well for the Warriors.

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
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Last night, for the first time since his rookie season, Klay Thompson didn't crack the Golden State Warriors' starting lineup. Klay's response? A season-high 35 points.

It's true, Klay Thompson has had stretches this season where he hasn't looked himself. Two weeks ago, Klay Thompson found himself on the bench during crunchtime of the Atlanta Hawks-Golden State Warriors game. Consequently, league-wide murmurs followed, claiming Klay was past his prime and the Warriors were on the verge of disaster, a sinking ship, yada-yada, etc.

In fact, in light of Thompson's looming free agency and recent on-court struggles, Klay admitted he's open to accepting a new role if that means staying with the Golden State Warriors. However, last night was different for Klay Thompson.

Klay Thompson has huge impact off bench for Warriors

Last night, Klay Thompson led the Warriors to a 140-137 victory over the Utah Jazz. The best part? Klay did this coming off the bench, which was a change of pace for the 34-year-old currently in his 10th season.

After the game, Klay told Golden State Warriors beat writer Sam Gordon, "This morning, Steve and I had a good talk about it and you can do two things - you can pout or go out there and respond. I thought I did the latter very well tonight."

Thompson also revealed he accepted Kerr's decision to move him to the bench. "I deserved it really." Thompson told Gordon, "I didn't respond to not playing at the end of the game well last night. Kind of took it out on the assistant coaches. I apologized to those guys before the game, and I think that let my guard down (and let me) be myself out there."

Klay also credited legendary San Antonio Spur Manu Ginobili for easing his transition from starter to a member of the bench-mob. "I thought about Manu Ginobili. That guy has four rings and a gold medal. Came off the bench his whole career, and I don't think anyone looks down on his Hall of Fame candidacy."

Surpass 15,000 points by half-time? Check. Score 18 points in the third quarter? Done. Shoot 7-13 from beyond the arc? Easy. How about 59/53/100 shooting splits? Say no more. This was undoubtedly the most impressive performance Klay has had all season, and it came directly after he was benched. Much like the transition from starter to bench player, working under scrutiny isn't easy. However, neither of these has been a problem for Klay Thompson.

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