Leave it to the Golden State Warriors to turn an early-December matchup against a middling Eastern Conference team into must-watch TV. Klay Thompson, the Warriors’ shoot-first pass-maybe scorer extraordinaire, tortured the Indiana Pacers for 60 points in an electric 21-of-33 shooting performance. Thompson connected on his usual flick-of-the-wrist 3-point bombs and catch-and-go drives from behind the arc, but, on this night, also showed off a bit of offensive guile in earning a season-high 11 trips to the free throw line. The historically great scoring binge is especially jaw dropping when you realize Thompson needed only 29 minutes to do all that damage.
Here are 10 thoughts on the 142-106 blowout:
1. How do you outdo a 37-point quarter when you’re Klay Thompson, a guy that’s on record as not wanting to sacrifice s**t, a guy that teammates call “thirsty” for shots? You live up to that rep and drop a cool 60 points in three quarters of action at a two-points-per-minute pace. You do it by scoring 17 in the first quarter off multiple back cut layups, 23 in the second, including four threes, and 20 in the third on whatever shots you feel like taking. And you do it against Monta Ellis, the man who used to start in your place. There are guys in the league who get into zones, and then there’s Klay, someone that can make a professional basketball game feel like NBA Jams come to life. I mean, Klay was so hot that Stephen Curry decided to literally ice him down.
2. Last summer in the Hamptons, the players and execs sold the Warriors’ selfless, team-first mantra to Kevin Durant in order to get him to don a Bay Bridge adorned uniform. On Monday night, KD experienced that all-for-one, one-for-all collective joy firsthand. As Klay got rolling early in the first quarter, his teammates kept searching for him and forcing the ball into his hands. Though the Dubs’ proclivity might be to manufacture open shots and get everyone involved with multiple passes, when one player has it going, they find every way possible to keep that guy rolling. Curry, Durant and Draymond Green all had a below-average scoring night, yet they, and every other Warrior, were all smiles each time Klay raised up for an attempt.
4. Maybe Monta was right afterall. You can’t have two diminutive guards in the same backcourt and expect to defend at a winning level (he and Jeff Teague are both 6′ 3″ or shorter).
5. Ian Clark’s floater-game has improved drastically under the tutelage of Professor Curry. Small sample size to be sure, but Clark is 8-of-13 on all “floating” shots, per NBA.com. Clark busted out a never-before-seen lefty floater in the fourth.
6. Sharing and caring: the Warriors collected 45 assists in a game where no starter played over 29 minutes. They had only 4 turnovers through three quarters (before extended garbage time).
7. You know a team is entertaining as hell when the “Holy balls!” play of the game doesn’t involve the dude that erupted for 60 points.
8. Nit picking: Steve Kerr has repeatedly trotted out a three-headed-center lineup during deep periods of garbage time. Why not pick up another wing in lieu of one of those superfluous bigs?
9. Klay exited the game with 1:22 remaining in the third. Should Kerr have played him in the fourth to give him a chance to hit 70 points? 80? Naaaaaah. Injuries are always a risk and opposing players are liable to engage in desperate tactics if they feel like they’re being shown up. Remember when Draymond committed a Flagrant 2so Houston couldn’t hit a 3-point record against them three season ago?
10. I wish my colleagues in the office celebrated my work success with the same fervor and joy as these Warriors. The next time I fire off an especially effective, but brief, email to a business partner, I want my co-workers to run up and down the corridors kicking their legs in the air and knocking over computer monitors in unbridled glee. I want the company President to stand and clap as I walk by and for my manager to pat me on the back. I don’t need 20,000 people to chant my name, but that’d be nice too.