Klay Thompson builds on his Warriors legacy with another historic performance

Klay adds to Warriors legacy with historic game against OKC that originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO — Like Usain Bolt coming off the blocks in the Olympics or Tiger Woods, in his prime, steaming the court in a major, Klay Thompson in a “zone” on the basketball court is a fascinating sight to behold.

And there he was, out of nowhere on Monday night at the Chase Center, Thompson raining jump shots and reducing much of the anxiety that comes with the knowledge that the Warriors, indefinitely, will be without team catalyst Stephen Curry.

Though Thompson finished with a season-high 42 points, it was his 18 points in the first quarter that incited the sellout crowd (18,064), roused his teammates, and sparked a 141-114 victory over a Oklahoma City Thunder team who despite his bravery had no answer to his relentless onslaught.

Klay’s work was so devastating that the Warriors, who trailed by six after one quarter, led by seven in the first half and by 25 after three quarters.

“We always feed off Klay,” said coach Steve Kerr. “But especially on a night like this, where we go down early and lose a lot of points. OKC really came out and hit us right in the mouth; 9-2 (in the lead) out of the gate. And you could tell they were playing with a lot of energy and rhythm.

“Klay kept us in from the start with his shoot and let us find our own rhythm.”

Thompson’s first 33 points took just 19 minutes: 18 in the first half and the first 67 seconds of the second. Less than two minutes into the third quarter, he was 12-of-16 from the field, including 9-of-11 from beyond the arc.

He continued, just because he could, blowing up three more 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to finish with a season-high 42 points, on 15-of-22 shooting, including 12-of-16 from depth. His standing ovation was well deserved.

“I was just looking for really good shots,” Thompson said. “I had a couple of great looks early on and thought they were all in rhythm. Maybe I had two bad shots tonight, so it was a good night shooting the ball.”

This was one of those games that blends into so many others of Klay’s legend, with shots seemingly driven by a magnetic force from his clean hand through the hoop. When neither distance nor angle matters, or whether or not it’s balanced.

Thompson, who turns 33 on Wednesday, now has eight games in which he has at least 10 triples. The only person with more? Curries, with 22.

With shooting from Klay and an outstanding overall game from Jordan Poole — 21 points on 14 shooting, a career-high 12 assists — the Thunder were surprisingly defenseless against a Warriors team sans Curry.

“They got what they wanted offensively,” Thunder guard Josh Giddey said. “I mean, he helps when Klay shoots the ball like he did.”

This is the Klay the Warriors need if they are to find their best selves with Curry out for at least a few weeks. It’s not that Thompson needs to go nuke with surprising efficiency, but if he’s putting up 30 or so while pulling near 50-40-90 divisions—well within his capability—the attack of Golden State will breathe much easier.

“When (Klay) starts early, he’s such a threat that we just play with him,” Poole said. “We know he’ll be walking around and we’ll find him when he’s opened. But once Klay warms up or Steph warms up, the teams start helping out a little more. And we’re such a good team at cutting, off the ball, and the reads we make in our attack really help that.

The Warriors shot season-high 57.7% from the field, including 52% from beyond the arc. Thompson and Poole combined to shoot 17 for 27 from distance. With a season-high 43 assists, the offense was humming along.

“We needed that,” Draymond Green said of Golden State’s first 25-plus point win over a team other than the lowly Spurs. “It’s been a while since we’ve had a sensational victory. It’s nice to get this, the first game with Steph out.

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Curry will miss the next four games before the All-Star break, and probably another half dozen or so after the break. If the Warriors can float around 0.500 in his absence, they’ll be in position to chase a top-6 seed over the past month.

If Klay has any more games like this in the coming weeks, the chase will begin while Curry is watching in civilian clothes.

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