SAN FRANCISCO -- Klay Thompson doesn't like to think there are two versions of himself or his game -- pre-injuries versus post-injuries -- nor does he follow the mindset that he's "getting back" to who he was. He has found that it doesn't do him any favors and results in him forcing his game.
Instead, he says focusing on the current tasks at hand have allowed him to find stability.
"I'm being myself and I was capable of these things in the past, and as long as my wrist still works, my feet work, I'll forever be able to shoot the rock," Thompson said after he scored 42 points on Friday night in the Golden State Warriors' 116-101 win over the Houston Rockets. "So for me, it's just about hunting great shots, and tonight I did that."
Thompson's performance came on the second night of a back-to-back, just his second time playing in both nights of a back-to-back since returning from his injuries. It's the most points he has scored in a game without Stephen Curry (lower left leg) and Draymond Green (right knee contusion).
"It's incredibly gratifying," said Thompson, 32. "I always reflect on the year I was not playing. I think about the time I was sidelined, watching. Now, it's easy to put everything in perspective and appreciate being able to move my body and play with great pace and flow and not even hesitate or think about anything."
All 12 of Thompson's field goals were 3-pointers, with 17 of his 19 field goal attempts coming from beyond the arc. He also went 6-of-6 from the free throw line. His 42 points and 12 3-pointers are both the most in a game by a player who did not make a 2-point field goal.
Thompson also became the first player in NBA history to make 12 3-pointers in multiple games in a season. Both have come in February.
"I did something that no one else has ever done before," Thompson said. "I looked at Steph immediately when I did it because, I mean, that man's got all the records, so it's fun to push the game forward with him. I'm still so hungry to be great. I'll never be satisfied."
Since the new year, Thompson has shot 45.9% from beyond the arc and 45.2% from the floor overall. He's aware of his shooting splits, but unlike in the past when he would obsess over his numbers and statistics, he says they don't "make or break" him.
"I always want to be a high volume but efficient scorer, but who doesn't," Thompson said. Ideally, he'd improve his two-point percentage to over 50 percent, but there are other areas of his game he's more keen on growing to become a more well-rounded player.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he was just as pleased with Thompson's seven rebounds against the Rockets as he was with his hot shooting display, because it spoke to Thompson's desire and ability to do more than just score.
The coaching staff told Thompson that no matter what happens moving forward, he will always be considered one of the best shooters the game has ever seen. But now, with Curry, Green, and Andrew Wiggins (family matters) out, the onus falls on Thompson to be the veteran leader and step outside of his comfort zone.
Kerr and Thompson spoke Friday afternoon about how players must evolve as they get older. They talked about how Michael Jordan added becoming a low-post player in his 30s as an example of a player evolving. For Magic Johnson, it was improving as a 3-point shooter and free throw shooter.
"You can't just expect to be the same player that you were five years ago," Kerr said. "And I think Klay understands that and the challenge is to be better defensively and more vocal and a better leader and a better rebounder and all those things because, within the team, he's now the elder."
Said Thompson: "I'm not the most comfortable using my voice, but you've got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. That's how you grow to be great. [Friday], I did a good job of leading by example and using my voice."
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