OAKLAND – Klay Thompson’s historic night was without pretense or secrets. No trickery, no gimmickry, no sleight-of-hand from him or the coaching staff or anyone else affiliated with the Warriors.
It was a fabulous shooter playing basic basketball at its finest, and it was easier to recognize this 14 hours after the fact.
“It’s the firepower we have on this team,” Thompson said Tuesday afternoon, in the wake of scoring 60 points Monday night as the Warriors routed Indiana.
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“You can’t really help off any of our guys,” the sixth-year guard added. “Everyone is capable of having a huge night. It’s also the system I play in, too. It’s constant motion, it’s free flowing, and I’m always on the move. It’s just tough on a defender. It wears you down having to chase around a guy for 40 minutes.”
The Pacers didn’t chase Thompson for 40 minutes. They didn’t have to. He did his damage in 29 minutes, leaving the Pacers with nothing but humiliating defeat and floor burns on their feet.
“It was an unbelievable performance that you really didn’t see coming until it happened,” teammate Stephen Curry said. “He started off the game hot, obviously, but to stay that consistent, getting it from the free throw line, the 3-point line, midrange, layups, it was an ultimate clinic.
“It was as entertaining to watch on the highlights after as it was live.”
Thompson ran and ran and ran, and the Pacers couldn’t keep up. Poor Monta Ellis had no chance. Thompson also annihilated Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles and even left premier defender Paul George – the last-chance Klay-stopper – clutching air.
It’s nearly impossible to cool a hot shooter when he doesn’t need the ball, and Thompson needed only 11 dribbles to get 60 points.
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“That’s amazing, 11 dribbles and 60 points,” coach Steve Kerr said.
Kerr noted that Thompson is at his best when playing off the ball, hence the phrase “off guard.” Thompson is a classic, in the mold of Ray Allen and a few others that rely on movement and shooting strokes from above.
“That’s been my MO since I’ve been in this league,” Thompson said. “To mimic guys like Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Chris Mullin – guys who really use their teammates to set themselves up and did it for decades in this league.”
When Thompson’s skills are blended with those of point guard Stephen Curry as well as forwards Draymond Green and Kevin Durant – all of whom excellent playmakers, comfortable with the ball in their hands – it’s downright combustible.
“When you play with the group that Klay is playing with, the defense can’t exactly cheat,” Kerr explained. “It’s hard to cheat off Kevin or Steph, so it’s just a good mix. But there’s a level of confidence and maybe a lack of consciousness that Klay has that very few players possess. Once he gets going, he doesn’t seem to think and it benefits him pretty well.”
That’s the game reduced to its simplest level. Run, catch and shoot. Elemental, particularly when the shots are going in.