Programming note: Watch the re-air of Klay Thompson's 37-point quarter against the Kings from 2015 tonight at 8 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Bay Area.
It was a performance no Warriors fan can forget, a 12-minute sequence that contorted the imagination of observers around the world: Klay Thompson, 37 points, in one quarter.
For perspective, the last time anyone in the NBA averaged more than 37 points per game was 1986-87, when Michael Almighty Jordan finished at 37.1.
To relive the thrill, catch NBC Sports Bay Area’s Wednesday night (8 p.m.) re-airing of the January 2015 Warriors-Kings game distinguished by Klay’s record-setting scoring binge.
"You don't get that hot in '2K,' " Draymond Green said after Thompson led the Warriors to a 126-101 victory.
“I’m on cloud nine right now,” said Thompson, who finished with 52 points (16-of-25 shooting, 11-of-15 from deep, 9-of-10 from the line), five assists, four steals and two blocks.
Thompson’s third-quarter display is one of several instances in his career when he entered the NBA record book. It also reminded fans why it’s widely concluded that he and Warriors teammate Steph Curry represent the sweetest-shooting backcourt ever to step onto a floor.
Thompson in the third quarter was 13-of-13 from the field, including 9-of-9 from distance. He made four 2-pointers -- one of which was a dunk off a Curry lob, another a one-on-three drive to the rim -- and buried two free throws. He scored 19 consecutive points over a five minute, 26-second stretch when the Warriors built a lead they never lost.
"It was kind of a blur,” Thompson said. “I wish I could go back and enjoy it some more, but moments like that, the best ones, go by really fast."
Though most of the abuse was absorbed by shooting guards Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas, Thompson also saved some for point guards Darren Collison and Ray McCallum, small forward Quincy Miller and even power forward Jason Thompson.
While a sellout crowd (19,596) rocked Oracle Arena, Warriors and Kings alike were captivated by a show unlike any ever witnessed in the NBA. Thompson scored all but four of his team’s 41 points in the 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 coach Steve Kerr said. "As many spectacular things as Michael did, which he did nightly, I never saw him do that."
NBA legend Jerry West, then a Warriors front office executive, watched the game that night, then flew back to his Southern California home and couldn’t get to sleep because he kept “replaying” what he had seen.
Thompson surpassed the previous record for points in a quarter of 33, shared by George Gervin and Carmelo Anthony. Klay’s nine triples in the quarter surpassing the previous record of eight, shared by Joe Johnson and Michael Redd.
“I’ll enjoy it tonight,’ Thompson said, “and come back to earth tomorrow.
“I give credit to my father (Mychal), my teammates, especially my dad. He told me at a young age that he saw my gifts. He said, ‘Klay, a jump shot can take you all the way someday.’ "
No question Klay’s jumper is signature. His form is pure, classic. When he gets on a roll, the confines of the rim seem to expand, allowing him alone to enter a space where everything he throws up drops through the net. His practically perfect stroke delivers something equal parts science fiction and magic trick.
This might be why former Warriors star Andre Iguodala would often remarke that his son’s favorite player is Steph, “but I tell him to try to shoot like Klay.”
Despite the abundance of evidence supporting the belief that Curry is the best shooter in the NBA, Thompson has earned credentials worthy of stirring debate. Though Klay lacks Steph’s absurd range and preposterous creativity, his dazzling metronomic runs allow him to boast of having higher highs than not only his teammate but anybody in NBA history.
Though Thompson in October 2018 added another scoring record, most 3-pointers in a game, with 14, that night was Klay at his hottest. His third quarter was perfect, which is as hot as arithmetic allows.