Golden State Warriors survive almighty scare in Utah behind veteran's major statement

Golden State Warriors v Utah Jazz
Golden State Warriors v Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

For the first time since his rookie year in 2012, Klay Thompson came off the bench for the Golden State Warriors in their final game before the All-Star break against the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.

It was a brutal but understandable decision from head coach Steve Kerr, with Thompson having largely struggled over recent games. That included a rough outing against the LA Clippers on Wednesday which ended in the veteran sharpshooter fatefully choosing to foul Russell Westbrook with 40 seconds to play.

Klay Thompson responded to his benching with a season-high, but the Golden State Warriors only just escaped with a nail-biting 140-137 win over the Utah Jazz

The 34-year-old responded to his benching in positive fashion, scoring 17 first-half points as Golden State weathered an early Utah onslaught that saw the hosts put up 39 points in the opening 12 minutes.

The hot shooting continued for Thompson once he entered in the third-quarter, with the five-time All-Star producing one of his patented onslaughts that have come to define his Hall-of-Fame career.

Thompson had 18 points in the final five minutes of the period, giving him 35 for the game as the Warriors built what looked like an unassailable 18-point lead on the back of 120 points through the first three-quarters.

But as has been the case in this Golden State season, and on the back of a fourth-quarter collapse against the LA Clippers on Wednesday, Utah came storming back to provide themselves with a chance of victory in the final seconds.

With the Warrior offense having stopped to a halt and clinging to a one-point lead, Jazz star Lauri Markkanen had a corner three to give his team the lead in the final minute. The shot rimmed off but into the waiting hands of John Collins who, after a scramble, threw the ball into the crowd much to the delight of anxious Golden State fans.

Utah guard Colin Sexton had another opportunity at the buzzer, missing an open three that would have sent the game to overtime after a pair of Stephen Curry free-throws. The Warriors may have survived, but there was an eery feel of disappointment and relief rather than victory jubilation.

Nevertheless, Golden State completed what they set out to do. Thompson's 35 was a season-high, having come on 13-of-22 shooting and 7-of-13 shooting. Fellow veteran Draymond Green also had a season-high in scoring, finishing with 23 points, five rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks in less than 29 minutes.

Curry, the third member of the legendary trio, cooled off after his blistering recent form, recording 16 points on 4-of-14 shooting. The two-time MVP did have 10 assists though, leading to the team's season-high 42 dimes.

Starting in place of Thompson, rookie Brandin Podziemski had 13 points, six rebounds and eight assists, while Andrew Wiggins added 19 points and seven rebounds. The Warriors shot 53.3% from the floor and 47.6% from three-point range, with the Jazz also nailing 44.9% of their attempts from beyond the arc.

The win moves Golden State back above .500 at 27-26 entering the All-Star break. They'll have a week off before facing the Los Angeles Lakers at Chase Center next Thursday.