Klay Thompson’s start to the season has been relatively quiet, but Tuesday night, the hottest hand on the floor was his.
Given the early-season feats of his team and the guy next to him in the backcourt, Klay Thompson’s start has been quiet. He announced his full arrival to the party on Tuesday night in Indianapolis, where the hottest hand on the floor was his. The Warriors extended their streak to 27 games in a 131–123 win, and their spotless record—and best start in league history—to 23–0. Golden State also becomes the first team ever to start 13–0 on the road.
Thompson finished with 39 points on 13-of-21 shooting, making 10 threes to chase records both personal (11) and all-time (12), belonging to Donyell Marshall and Kobe Bryant. As ESPN noted on Twitter, Thompson joined J.R. Smith and partner-in-crime Stephen Curry as the only players ever with multiple games of double-digit made threes. He poured in eight of his threes in the first half, finishing with 29 points at the break, topping his season-high of 26 in just 18 minutes. But things would not end in ideal fashion, as Thompson exited late in the fourth quarter after suffering a sprained right ankle.
The Warriors led 79–60 at halftime, an astonishing, frenetic feat that included 62.5% team shooting while holding Indiana to 42%. Golden State set the pace and dominated within it. Curry, maintaining his brilliant form, scored 29 points with 10 assists and seven rebounds. Still, the game turned temporarily shaky as Indiana mounted an impressive fourth-quarter run behind hot shooting and hustle plays, pulling within six after trailing by as many as 32 toward the end of the third.
For every bit as cool as the Warriors finished, their first quarter was that blistering, Curry and Thompson combining to outscore and out-shoot the entire Pacers team. The hosts led 21–17 out of a timeout with 6:27 left in that period. In the next four minutes, Golden State doubled its score, pitched a shutout and dug Indiana a cushy, 17–0 run-shaped grave.
The Pacers have largely succeeded in their transition to playing small this season, and entered the night right behind their opponents as the league’s second-best three-point shooting team. But trying to beat the defending champs at their own game is a dangerous notion, made evident by the speed at which it all unraveled at first—the Warriors were unfazed, comfortable as usual with a breakneck, transition game.
To its credit Indiana wouldn’t fold, winning the final quarter 40–20 and pulling within six while shooting 50% from the floor. Golden State struggled down the stretch, resting its starters, missing open looks, but hanging on. Paul George, in midst of a remarkable season of his own, finished with 33 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but was a minus–18, indicative of just how tough the night was at times.
With its 27th consecutive win, Golden State has tied the 2012–13 Miami Heat for the second-longest streak in league history. That record is 33 wins, set by the ’71–72 Lakers. The Warriors travel to face the Boston Celtics on Friday.