Klay Thompson has been a slow starter through his brief career, but also finishes strong.
The younger splash brother is catching fire of late, his most recent victims being the Charlotte Hornets, who Thompson and the Warriors swatted away by a score of 111-101.
Thompson was hot from the moment he took the floor. Finishing the first quarter with nine 11 points, going 3-for-5 from the arc, he led the all players following each period for the entire evening.
Thompson’s final line: 30 points, 3 assists and 5 rebounds.
His cold start to the season appears to be history. He’s scored 20 or more points in eight of the last 10 games he’s played, a stretch that began with a 43 point performance at home versus Phoenix in mid-December.
Interim head coach Luke Walton said:
“If felt like he got hot a few times and cold a few times. Normally when he heats up, he stays hot for the whole game. He’s such a dangerous scorer, a lot of times he’d hit big shots when Charlotte was making a run and coming back in the game. He’s been playing at a high level, it’s nice that he’s back at that all-star level.”
The continued stretch of outstanding games has helped Golden State through a rough patch without much to worry about, losing only one game without Barnes, Festus Ezeli, Leandro Barbosa, and for nearly a dozen quarters, Stephen Curry.
Following a steal by rookie guard Ian Clark, Thompson launched a triple at the five-minute mark of the second quarter, followed by a mid-range fade away set up by a Green rebound.
A pull up jumper from 12-feet was the final basket of the half for Thompson, who missed two consecutive threes with under a minute to go.
His short cold stretch was quickly remedied in the third quarter, and Thompson was hardly needed in the fourth, as the Warriors led by more than 20 during some stretches.
Harrison Barnes also made a return to action, playing 19 minutes in his first game back since November, an absence the result of a severe left ankle sprain with bruising down to the bone.
Barnes tallied 8 points, one assist and one board, and clearly has a way to go before he gets back into a groove.
Green, for the third game in a row, recorded a triple-double with 11 points, 15 boards and 10 assists. The only other players to do such a thing are Michael Jordan and Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook, and Green is the 15th player in NBA history to accomplish such a thing.
Walton inferred that it’s a result of Green being such a complete player:
“He’s a very unique player. That is very difficult to do. You can’t say enough good things about him. He brings it, he plays both ends of the court. He’s unselfish. Yet he can knock down jumpers and get to the rim and score. He’s just an all-around basketball player.”
“I realized it when I was eight (assists) or something like that. … It’s not easy. It definitely doesn’t come easy. But my teammates make it a lot easier to do it. Always moving, always cutting and knocking shots down. So when I have teammates playing the way they’re playing, it makes it easier.”
The Warriors, who possess the most venomous bite of any starting five in the NBA, are getting hot quickly. And it’s coming at a point where fatigue should be setting in.
At times it looks as though they’re too tired to stay on the torrid run they’ve been showing. That there is some slowing down, the marathon effect coming into play.
And then they smash that thought to hell, burying threes, driving through the paint for tough buckets, and shutting down formidable offenses on the other end of the floor.
Curry, who originally wasn’t going to play, was an important part of the victory with 30 point, 3 boards and 4 assists.
The Warriors scout team was playing with Shawn Livingston at the point, and it wasn’t until the Warriors had taken the floor for some warming up, that Curry was given the official go-ahead.
“He said he felt good out there, and they cleared him, obviously. If Steph Curry is going to play, then I’m never surprised he’s going to score 30 points.”
“And I didn’t get kicked, which was nice.”
“He’s our leader and that’s the kind of player he is. He hates to sit out.”
Golden State will embark on a three-game road trip to face the Lakers, Blazers and Kings, before returning to host the Heat next Monday at Oracle.
Where they are undefeated this season.
Kevon Looney, the Warriors first round draft selection from 2015, is honing his craft with Golden State’s developmental team in Santa Cruz.
Looney figures to play a role off the bench this season, and maybe for another season or two, but is also a crutch that could make the departure of Barnes — an impending free agent after this season — mildly stomachable to the hardcore Warriors fan.
It’s plausible that Looney see his first action around the all-star break, though the team has yet to establish a timetable for his NBA debut.