Warriors

'Evolving' Klay Thompson unveils new wrinkle vs Lakers

'Evolving' Klay Thompson unveils new wrinkle vs Lakers

SAN DIEGO – With family and friends from Orange County cheering from the stands, Warriors guard Klay Thompson put on a highly unusual show for Klay Thompson.

The man with the itchy trigger finger, who lives for the long-range bucket, unveiled his inner point guard, ringing up eight assists in 32 minutes Wednesday night in a 123-112 preseason win over the Lakers before 13,669 at Valley View Casino Center.

“It’s awesome,” coach Steve Kerr said, grinning.

“You could tell,” forward Kevin Durant said of Thompson, “that he was feeling himself on the playmaking.”

After not having a single assist in the first three games, Thompson was credited with six over the next two. Eight, which led the Warriors, is an outburst.

[POOLE: Durant continues to impress in another Warriors tune-up victory]

“He’s evolving in understanding how teams are guarding him,” Stephen Curry said. “When he catches the ball, he obviously demands a lot of attention. And he’s been really patient reading the situation. He made some amazing passes. He had a lot of court vision, just making the simple play.”

Eight assists ties Thompson’s career-high in games that actually count. And Thompson still found time for 19 points, three rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots.

“He was fantastic,” Kerr said. “The drive-and-kick stuff. And he made the simple play. He wasn’t trying too hard to do anything, just putting it on the floor and finding guys – and knocking down shots when he was open. It was a great night.”

Not that Thompson, a generally laconic sort, was too impressed with his work.

“I just made the simple play,” he said. “A lot of times, it’s just a simple bounce pass or a kick out. It’s nothing new.”

Well, actually it is. Warriors players and coaches have been known to ride Thompson on his zero-assist nights. This was quite the opposite.

“He was great tonight,” Durant said. “That’s one thing that he’ll showcase this season. A lot of guys will be running at him. He’s going to have a lot of space, a lot of wide-open shots. He did a good job of driving to the paint and kicking out, because everybody is going to converge on him. He’s Klay Thompson.”

Steph Curry breaking records, setting milestones routine for Warriors star

Steph Curry breaking records, setting milestones routine for Warriors star

Stephen Curry broke a couple NBA records Tuesday night and the world shrugged, perhaps because both were his own.

Or maybe because it’s just so . . . common. We’ve come to expect Curry to reach heights never known to anyone, man or woman or robot, who has played professional basketball.

When the Warriors closed their four-game road trip with a win at Minnesota and a 3-1 record against competition that included three teams destined for the playoffs, they had many other reasons for joy during their return flight to Oakland. There was, among other things, the 3-to-1 assists-to-turnovers ratio, the 45.2-percent shooting from beyond the arc, the four blocks by Draymond Green and the rediscovery of Jonas Jerebko.

Meanwhile, Curry was being Curry, providing more numbers and records to chew on.

He was zooming past a milestone for 3-pointers made in the season, this being his third season with at least 300, an NBA record. The previous record was, of course, Curry’s two seasons.

Curry got to 303 by burning the Timberwolves with 8-of-14 shooting from deep, giving him 46 games with at least eight triples. That, too, is a record that already belonged to him. For what it’s worth, no one else has more than 14 such games.

Curry has drained at least 10 3-pointers in a game 14 times. No. 2 on this list is his teammate, Klay Thompson, with five. JR Smith, most recently with the Cavaliers, has three and likely will retire with that. Nobody else, according to basketball-reference.com, has more than one.

Curry this season has moved up from ninth place to third on the all-time list of 3-pointers made. With 2,432, he needs 129 to pass Reggie Miller (2,560) and move into second place. Miller’s last NBA game came three months before he turned 40.

Health permitting, Steph will fly past Reggie some time next November.

No. 1 on the all-time list is Ray Allen (2,973), whose final NBA game came five weeks before his 39th birthday.

Uh, Curry is 31, meaning it’s conceivable he’ll be 32 when he passes Ray.

Any time an athlete is setting a career record while still in his prime, it’s barely comprehensible. Shooters tend to have longer careers than most, as illustrated by the longevity of Miller and Allen. As silly as it seems, Curry could play another seven years, meaning 5,000 3-pointers is not out of the question.

Curry is stretching the floor like no one ever has. He’s comfortable firing from 40 feet and thinks nothing of pulling up from beyond 30. Allen and Miller almost never did that. Now, however, Portland’s Damian Lillard is following Curry’s lead. And here comes Atlanta’s Trae Young.

Remember Mark Jackson’s words regarding Stephen Curry? The former Warriors coach said Curry “is ruining the game.” Some took it literally, as if Curry and his frequent 3-point shooting were somehow bastardizing basketball. That wasn’t what Jackson meant.

"When Mark Jackson said he was ruining the game, I know a lot of people took that personal," Kevin Durant said in January. "But I kind of got it a little bit, because he's the only person I've ever seen that can shoot those shots in rhythm like that and make them. And now everybody else think they can.

"And you can't.”

Curry is that exceedingly rare individual whose greatness is surpassed by his influence. Unlike the 6-foot-6 Michael Jordan, whose soaring dunks were restricted to the dreams of all but a few athletes, the sight of Curry, at 6-3, jacking up shots from another area code is just tantalizing enough that some think they can get there with enough practice.

Folks knew they could never do what Michael did. Many believe they can do what Steph does.

“And that's why I shake my head, because once in a generation, once in a lifetime type of talent and movement,” Durant said. “(Curry’s) movements out there are just so smooth, it makes it look so easy. So when he's knocking down those shots, it's just a joy to see."

[RELATED: Watch Steph Curry hit four straight shots from T-Wolves half-court logo]

To put Curry’s assault on the record books into context, we have to go to its oldest pages, those containing sports records likely to stand as long as mankind survives. Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game and 50.4-point average over a full season. Cal Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive baseball games. Cy Young’s 511 pitching wins and 749 complete games. Rickey Henderson’s 1,406 stolen bases. Wayne Gretzky’s 2,857 points. Richard Petty’s 200 NASCAR wins.

Even the true believers, like Don Nelson, who quickly envisioned Curry as a superstar, could not have imagined that each time he steps onto the floor he would represent a threat to a record.

Best not take it for granted. And if you already are, you’re missing a show worthy of savoring.

Watch Steph Curry hit four straight shots from T-Wolves half-court logo

Watch Steph Curry hit four straight shots from T-Wolves half-court logo

This is too easy for Steph Curry. While you might have grown up heaving half-court shots, the two-time NBA MVP has made this his layup line. 

Before the Warriors' 117-107 win over the Timberwolves, he was back at it again. Watch Curry nailed four straight from the T-Wolves' half-court logo like it's nothing. 

Steph brought that same stroke from deep into the game, too. He scored a game-high 36 points and made eight of his 14 3-point shot attempts. 

And the eight 3-pointers are nothing compared to the milestone Curry hit from beyond the arc. For the third time in his NBA career, he has now made at least 300 3-pointers in a season.

[RELATED: Warriors find rhythm on road trip with NBA playoffs’ top seed in reach]

Curry has now made 303 3-pointers this season while shooting 42.9 percent from downtown.