What's the greatest game of Klay Thompson's career? It's a simple question with no clear answer.
Even though Thompson is only nine years removed from being selected with the No. 11 pick in the draft, he has gone on so many hot streaks and broken so many records over the last few seasons that it's hard to pick one that stands out from the crowd.
So ... I'm not going to.
Instead, with it being the sharpshooter's 31st birthday, let's take a stroll down memory lane and relive six times Thompson broke basketball.
Dribble only when necessary
On Jan. 8, 2019, Thompson scored a game-high 43 points in a win over the New York Knicks, doing so on 18-for-29 shooting from the field and 7-for-16 from 3-point range.
The craziest part of it all? He took only four dribbles.
For perspective, there were a total of 69 players who averaged at least four dribbles whenever they touched the ball in the 2019-20 season.
For Thompson to score 43 points on less dribbles than some players use in a single possession ... unreal.
Klay Thompson dropped 43 PTS tonight. He also only dribbled the ball 4 times.- NBA TV (@NBATV) January 9, 2019
4 TIMES. 😱#DubNation pic.twitter.com/TiKobrQcCK
3s on 3s on 3s on 3s
In 2003, Kobe Bryant set a new NBA record in making 12 3-pointers in a single game. Two years later, Donyell Marshall tied that record.
Bryant and Marshall's record stood for more than a decade. Stephen Curry tied it at the end of the 2015-16 season, only to break it with 13 3-pointers near the start of the 2016-17 season.
Thompson then one-upped his Splash Brother during the 2018-19 season with 14 3-pointers in a win over the Chicago Bulls.
Thompson finished the game with 52 points on 18-for-29 shooting from the field and 14-for-24 shooting from 3, all in - wait for it - 26 minutes of play. (Thompson took a seat on the bench with 4:53 remaining in the third quarter and never returned with the game all but over). 10 of his 3s came in the first half, tying a record held by Chandler Parsons for the most 3s ever made in a half.
Oh, and Thompson only took nine dribbles.
"For NBA history, you got it!"- Golden State Warriors (@warriors) October 29, 2020
Two years ago today, @KlayThompson became the first and only player in league history to ever hit 14 threes in a game. pic.twitter.com/XGdLtK1tqr
A quarter for the record books
Everyone who played for the Sacramento Kings in the 2014-15 season probably believes in the hot hand theory, because they had front-row seats to Thompson turning into a human flamethrower in the middle of an NBA game.
Not only did Thompson light the Kings up with 52 points, he scored 37 points in the third quarter alone, setting the NBA record for points scored in a single quarter that was previously held by Kevin Love.
Thompson made even more history by shooting a perfect 13-for-13 from the field and 9-for-9 from the perimeter in the period, tying the NBA record for field goals made in a quarter and breaking the record for 3s made in a quarter.
"I was one of the luckiest NBA players ever to play with Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, David Robinson and some of the greatest players ever," Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said after the game. "As many spectacular things as Michael did, which he did nightly, I never saw him do that."
Klay Thompson really scored 37 points in a single quarter.- Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 12, 2020
💧Record for PTS in a quarter
💧Record for 3s in a quarter
💧Record for FG in a quarter (tied) pic.twitter.com/RFD4wtEvhj
You miss 100% of the shots you don't take
Everyone who played for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2018-19 season probably believes in the hot hand theory, too.
In a blowout win over the Lakers, Thompson scored 44 points on 10-for-11 shooting from the perimeter. He started the game shooting a perfect 10-for-10 from 3-point range before missing his one and only 3-point attempt of the night with 3:55 remaining in the third quarter.
In making 10 straight 3s, Thompson tied the NBA record for consecutive made 3s to start the game.
🔥🔥 @KLAYTHOMPSON IN HIS ZONE! 🔥🔥- NBA (@NBA) January 22, 2019
The @warriors shooting guard (44 PTS) ties the NBA record for 3PM to start a game without missing, hitting his first 10 three-point attempts! #DubNation pic.twitter.com/3m67HL5ytM
Want to guess who Thompson shares the record with? Nope, not Curry. Not Ray Allen either. Not Damian Lillard, James Harden or Duncan Robinson.
The answer is...
Ty Lawson, believe it or not.
The first to do it
How's this for history: Thompson is the only player to ever score 60 points while playing less than 30 minutes, per Stathead.
In a win over the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 5, 2016, Thompson scored a career-best 60 points on 21-for-33 shooting from the field and 8-for-14 from 3-point range while logging only 29 minutes. With the Warriors leading by 33 points after three quarters of play, Thompson watched the entire fourth quarter on the bench.
Thompson's dribble count? 11. So more than five, but not by much.
S/O to my squad for setting me up 2night! I don't think I had to take more then 5 dribbles the whole game lol- klay thompson (@KlayThompson) December 6, 2016
Additionally, Thompson had the ball in his possession for a grant total of 90 seconds in his 29 minutes on the court.
Klay's career-high night (12/5/16):- NBA (@NBA) March 31, 2020
🔥 60 POINTS
👌 8 THREES
🤯 11 TOTAL DRIBBLES@KlayThompson x #NBATogetherLive pic.twitter.com/lCpZn9siPY
A comeback for the ages
You can't tell the story of Thompson's career without Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals.
Coming off of a record-breaking regular season that saw the Warriors win 73 games, Golden State found itself trailing the Oklahoma City Thunder 3-1 in the 2016 Western Conference Finals. The Warriors defeated the Thunder in Game 5 in Golden State to keep their season alive and traveled to Oklahoma City for Game 6.
Need you be reminded, that was a championship-level Thunder team that featured Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. The three of them had the Warriors on the ropes heading into the fourth quarter of Game 6 with an eight-point lead, but that's when Thompson took matters into his own hands.
Following a 14-point third quarter, Thompson poured in 19 more points in the fourth quarter to lead a Warriors comeback and force a Game 7. Thompson was once again incredibly efficient, shooting 6-for-9 from the field and 5-for-6 from 3-point range.
Pretty much every shot Thompson took in that fourth quarter was of a high degree of difficulty.
In the 2016 WCF, Klay Thompson hit 11 3-pointers against the Thunder to set a playoff record.- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 13, 2019
"Game 6 Klay" is the stuff of legend. Will we see it again tonight? 💦 pic.twitter.com/qYuABpljy7
Thompson led the Warriors with 41 points in the game on 11-for-18 shooting from the perimeter, setting an NBA record for 3s made in a playoff game.
The Warriors went on to defeat the Thunder in Game 7 to advance to the NBA Finals, becoming only the 10th team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the playoffs ... only to soon become the first team in NBA history to blow a 3-1 lead in the Finals.
Even so, that Game 6 against the Thunder was one of the greatest shooting exhibitions we've ever seen in the playoffs and may ever see.
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