As is often the case with Klay Thompson, it started quietly. Thompson curled on a simple inbounds play and registered his first points, knocking down an unguarded midrange look.
For a shooter of his pedigree, seeing the ball fall through the hole unfettered is sometimes all that is needed for a flurry of tough shots to follow.
That’s exactly what happened Monday night as Thompson posted 44 points and shot 10-of-11 from the three-point line in the Warriors’ 130-111 win over the Lakers. Thompson made his first 10 three-pointers, adding yet another NBA record to the long list compiled in Golden State.
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While Thompson rolled throughout, the game wasn’t pretty for the rest of the roster. Stephen Curry had a slow shooting night, Draymond Green continued to struggle from deep and DeMarcus Cousins worked to knock the cobwebs off his game after missing extended time with an Achilles injury.
None of that mattered as Thompson, the owner of one of the NBA’s prettiest shooting forms, teamed with Kevin Durant to knock down buckets and gain separation after a tightly contested first half. Two quarters in, Thompson already had 21 points and he and Durant accounted for 31 of the Warriors’ 65 points.
Once Thompson reached the third quarter, there was little the Lakers could do. When the ball was placed in Thompson’s hands he pulled up before the defense even considered guarding. When he was denied, the Warriors used their typical approach and practiced patience until they found the hot hand, feeding Thompson until he finally hit back-to-back threes on the right side of the court and knocked down his 10th three. Thompson chucked one final heat check and headed to the bench with Golden State leading, 100-69.
As Thompson sat on the bench, cameras focused in on him at all times, it was easy to forget that he had trouble finding his shot as recently as last month. Faced with questions about a shooting slump in December, Thompson flexed his confidence and asked reporters, “What is somebody going to tell me about my jump shot that I can’t fix? Unless it’s Reggie Miller or Ray Allen, I don’t know who I’m supposed to listen to. Larry Bird? Steve Kerr. I’ll listen to Steve. Steve shot 45%.” Nights like this show exactly where that unshakable confidence comes from.