Thompson scored 26 points in the second quarter of the Warriors 111-107 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, finishing the night with 42 points on 15-of-21 shooting.
The Warriors were more than fortunate for Thompson’s exceptional night, which gave them enough of an edge to withstand a huge fourth-quarter comeback by Memphis.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said the first three quarters showed the edge that the Warriors need heading into the playoffs, and that Thompson was a huge part of that:
“Obviously Klay was unconscious out there. But it was good defense, good energy and great push in transition. We did a lot of good things. A disappointing fourth quarter, but we won and that’s the important thing.”
Thompson started the night out with a respectable 11-point first quarter that was complimented by the rest of the Warriors shooting 68 percent from the floor including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.
At the 9:34 mark in the second quarter, Thompson hit a deep trey, and after a couple reverse layups and another three, it was obvious he was on a hot streak. At this point the Warriors started to feed Thompson the ball relentlessly.
Nearing the end of the first half Thompson’s team mates were trying to force the ball into his hands so much that they were turning over the ball rather than settle for someone else shooting.
Green, who was guilty of one such turnover, said Kerr yelled at them for being so focused on Thompson instead of finding another open man:
“Coach Kerr kind of got pissed off at us as we started to turn the ball over trying to give it to Klay, but when you have a guy shooting like that it’s hard not to look for him.”
With Thompson’s record-breaking 37-point quarter (Jan. 23) fresh in everyone’s mind, Oracle was rocked with cheers every time Thompson scored and the crowd chanting ‘Klay’ at dead balls and timeouts.
Giving all the credit to his teammates for finding him in perfect shooting positions, Thompson said he was happy to shoot the ball well, but he seemed more excited about the win than his 42-point night:
“It felt great to see the ball go in tonight and most importantly, get the win and protect this home-court record, which is something crazy. Hopefully we can do that throughout the playoffs too.”
Thompson scored 23 consecutive points for the Warriors in the second quarter and finished the first half with 37 points and Golden State leading by as many as 24.
The Warriors continued to push coming out of halftime. Midway through the third, Thompson scored his final points of the night at the free throw line to give Golden State its largest lead of the night, a 32-point advantage.
With the hefty lead, the Warriors’ starters sat while the reserves were given the task of closing the game.
But the second unit was outplayed in the final quarter by the Grizzlies, who were able to cut the Warriors lead to just four points after a 31-6 run and dreadful free throw shooting from Golden State.
Kerr said the reserves weren’t ready to play, and after the game he told them when they are given a shot they have to compete and do their job on the floor:
“They have to have more pride about their defense especially, and taking care of their jobs and doing their assignments. I’ve been in that position. I was a reserve for my whole career. Its not an easy feeling when you are out there and you have a big lead and things start going south.”
In the end, Golden State had given themselves enough of a gap to outlast the Grizzlies attempt to foul their way back into the lead and the Warriors walked away with home win No. 38.
The Warriors, now 66-15, will close out the regular season Wednesday against the visiting 30-50 Denver Nuggets.
The NBA postseason officially kicks off Saturday, but with the West’s eighth seed still undecided the Warriors playoff schedule hasn’t been set. They will play their first game at Oracle either Saturday or Sunday.
Golden State is the 14th team in NBA history to win at least 66 games in a season. Golden sTate extended its franchise record for home wins with their 38th home victory, becoming the 11th team in NBA history to win 38 home games in a single season. … The Warriors are the first team in NBA history to comply multiple home winning streaks of at least 17 games in the same season. … Klay Thompson recorded his fourth career 40-point game (all this season) with 42 points. Thompson is the only player in Warriors history to score at least 40 points in 30 minutes or fewer since the NBA began tracking minutes during the 1951-52 season.