Klay Thompson rescued the Golden State Warriors from a frustrating loss to the short-handed Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night, his go-ahead jumper with .2 seconds left sending the Dubs to a 102-101 victory.

Steve Kerr warned the Warriors before tipoff they were facing an “ultimate trap game,” stopping in at Chase Center between long road trips with De'Aaron Fox sidelined by an ankle sprain. They played like it for long stretches against Sacramento, turning the ball over with all-too-familiar carelessness and clanking triple after triple. Even Stephen Curry fell well short of his lofty early-season standards, finishing with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting while coughing up seven of Golden State's 17 total turnovers.

None of that mattered in the end, though, Thompson turning a ragged final possession into game-winning joy with a tough pull-up two while sandwiched between the outstretched arms of Davion Mitchell and Keegan Murray. After the final buzzer sounded, Thompson couldn't help but praise the basketball gods for rewarding the Warriors with a win despite an ugly offensive performance.

“I get going left, step back and rise up, it's tough to stop. Didn't have my best shooting half in that second, but I stuck with it,” he said. “That's the beauty of this game, you stick with it, you play hard defense, the basketball gods tend to favor you.”

Klay Thompson came up huge for Warriors throughout crunch-time

Warriors' Klay Thompson in front. Warriors' Steph Curry, Warriors' Draymond Green on his left and right

Thompson's substandard numbers—14 points on 15 shots with two rebounds, two assists, three blocks and two turnovers—fail to capture the lows and highs of his play versus the Kings. He struggled mightily for most of Wednesday's game, forcing up shots while trying to find his rhythm and failing to make much of an impact on the other end.

Sacramento opened up an 11-point lead in the third quarter, rough two-way sequences like this driving the road team's game-changing run.

But Golden State locked down defensively from there, amping up the on-ball pressure and overall intensity to make life hard on the Kings as Fox watched from the bench.

Thompson swatted Domantas Sabonis' shot out of bounds while helping Dario Saric early in the fourth quarter; Moses Moody brought Chase Center to its feet with a highlight-reel chase-down on Kevin Huerter after another Curry turnover; and Draymond Green erased a Monk layup at the rim with just over 40 seconds remaining, saving an easy two points with his team down one. Thompson got his hands on the ball as Harrison Barnes rose to shoot on the ensuing out-of-bounds play, too, ensuring the Dubs would get the chance to take the lead.

It seemed like basketball gods were watching Thompson before his third and final block, though, smiling as he let the game come to him offensively as its outcome hung in the balance. The future Hall-of-Famer hasn't gotten off to the start he wanted in 2023-24; nobody would argue otherwise. But Thompson's offensive gravity looms larger than any player in the league save Curry's even when he's laboring, always drawing extra defensive attention and creating easy opportunities for himself and his teammates.

This crunch-time possession was going nowhere until Thompson ran a late-clock split cut with Curry, catching around the top of a screen from Gary Payton II (in the Dubs' closing five ahead of Andrew Wiggins and Jonathan Kuminga to defend Monk). Instead of launching another tough two after his up-fake on Kevin Huerter, Thompson saw Harrison Barnes cheating off Green and fired the ball right back where it came from, getting Golden State a crucial bucket.

The fear Thompson and Curry strike in the heart of defenses often makes the game come easier than a simple give-and-go, even in the clutch. Just less than a minute after Thompson found Green for an uncontested layup, the latter returned the favor.

How? The Kings were so scared of Thompson and Curry sprinting off dribble hand-offs and quickly letting fly that they top-locked the Splash Brothers—cleverly stationed on the same side of the floor—despite having no help at the rim. All Green had to do was wait for Thompson to back cut, affording him ample space to get the ball over the top of Huerter.

Everyone will remember Thompson's game-winner most, and rightfully so. Only so many players in the world are capable of hitting such a difficult shot with the game on the line. But even when his jumper isn't falling and he's failing to effect the game in meaningful ways otherwise, the latent pressure Thompson puts on the opposing team defensively still makes him a major asset for the Warriors.

Maybe the basketball gods really were shining down on Klay Thompson at Chase Center. But the threat perhaps the second-best shooter ever inherently poses to defenses definitely played a major part in him leading Golden State to last-second victory, too.