OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors will reintroduce Klay Thompson to their home fans Sunday night when they host the Phoenix Suns in a game that means as much to the NBA Draft Lottery as it does the upcoming playoffs.
Thompson returned to the lineup Saturday night at Sacramento for the first time since suffering a fractured right thumb on March 11 at Minnesota. He contributed 25 points in 32 minutes to Golden State’s 112-96 victory over the Kings that snapped a three-game losing streak.
Thompson’s return gave the Warriors three of their four All-Stars in the lineup for the first time since the Minnesota game. They were still without Stephen Curry, who is expected to miss the rest of the regular season and possibly some playoff action, because of a sprained left MCL.
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Warriors coach Steve Kerr used the Sacramento game as an initial testing ground for the duo that will join Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green in the starting lineup at the start of the playoffs should Curry remain out of action.
One of the candidates to replace Curry, Patrick McCaw, had to be taken off the court on a stretch after a hard fall onto his back following a drive to the hoop in the second quarter.
He was taken to the U.C. Davis Medical Center about 15 miles away for x-rays and overnight observation.
“That’s all that we’re thinking about — if he’s OK,” a somber Kerr said after the game. “It was really scary. He was in a lot of pain.”
The Warriors have (55-21) have six games remaining, including two against the Suns.
At stake for Golden State is the distinction of finishing with the second-best record in the NBA, which would assure them the home-court advantage over the Eastern Conference champion should they reach the NBA Finals.
The Houston Rockets (62-14) already have clinched the best record in the league. They will have the home-court edge in all playoff series, including a potential matchup with Golden State in the Western finals.
The Warriors, who have clinched the No, 2 seed in the West, are dueling Toronto (55-20) and Boston (52-23) for the home-court honors should they be the NBA Finals pairing.
The Suns (19-58), meanwhile, are four losses away from assuring themselves the worst record in the NBA and thus the best odds of winning the NBA Draft Lottery in May.
Phoenix has a couple of winnable games remaining — home against Sacramento and at Dallas.
Beating the Warriors, especially on the road, might be another matter for a team that’s lost 14 in a row. Golden State recorded a pair of one-sided wins earlier in the season, 129-83 at home in February, and 124-109 at Phoenix in March.
The Suns surely haven’t given up hope of winning again. They are coming off three straight impressive efforts against playoff-contending clubs, losing by a total of just 21 points against Boston, the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston.
The 104-103 defeat at Houston in their most recent outing Friday was encouraging.
“I’m proud of the way we played,” said rookie Josh Jackson, the Suns’ leading scorer with 27 points. “We played hard and I felt we got better.”
The game was lost on a last-second 3-pointer by the Rockets’ Gerald Green on a night when the Suns blew a 21-point lead.