“They just kept wanting to see the show. That’s what they kept telling me,” Thompson said.
Thompson set a league record for the most points in a quarter Friday night, a thrilling 37-point third period that powered the Golden State Warriors to a 126-101 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
He kept shooting. The ball kept going in. And by the time it was all over, Thompson had turned in a performance unlike any other in NBA history.
“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.”
Thompson finished with a career-high 52 points, pleasing 19,596 fans at rowdy Oracle Arena with a performance that will long be remembered in the basketball-loving Bay Area. The All-Star hopeful made all 13 shots, including a league-record nine from 3-point range in a quarter, and hit both of his free throws during a 12-minute span of pure basketball bliss.
“It was crazy. I don’t even know what happened,” Thompson said.
His streaky shooting stroke helped the Warriors (35-6) erase a sloppy showing in the middle of the game for its franchise-best 18th consecutive home victory. Golden State became the 10th team to win at least 35 games halfway through a season.
Thompson surpassed the 33-point mark set by George Gervin in 1978 and matched by Carmelo Anthony in 2008 for the most points in a quarter. Michael Redd and Joe Johnson shared the previous mark for most 3s in a quarter with eight.
A day after backcourt teammate Stephen Curry received the most votes for the All-Star game and Kerr learned he would lead the Western Conference in the showcase game, Thompson let the world know he expects to be right next to them at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 15.
Thompson stunned Sacramento – and just about everyone in the building – with a performance unlike any other in league lore. He hit one I-can’t-believe-he-just-made-that basket after another – including a 28-footer – and added an alley-oop from Curry on the fastbreak just for good measure.
Thompson said two other shots left him just as baffled: one in the corner with his feet off-balanced, another off a curl that got a “shooter’s bounce.” He also made one from about 10 feet beyond the 3-point line after a play that didn’t count.
After that, Warriors assistant Jarron Collins turned to Kerr and joked, “We have to get more balance.”
Thompson seemed to love every minute of it, flapping his hands to the crowd every time down court. At one point during a timeout, he sat on the bench with his hands over his head, staring at the scoreboard in disbelief.
Thompson scored 19 consecutive points during one scintillating stretch, which ended with him zipping a left-handed pass to Draymond Green for a layup. Thompson left to a standing ovation with 9:28 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“You always dream about it, being a big-time scorer and a big-time player. It’s crazy it’s reality,” said Thompson, who finished 16 of 25 from the floor and 11 of 15 from long range.
Thompson’s touch made sure the Warriors matched the franchise’s highest win total before the All-Star game. The defending champion 1975-76 Warriors went 35-13 before the break and finished with a team-best record 59-23.
DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points and 11 rebounds in Sacramento’s sixth straight loss, though he wasn’t that frustrated after this one. How could he be?
“I mean, the ball was barely touching his fingertips and he was releasing it. It’s pretty hard to stop something like that,” Cousins said.
Here are the full highlights of all of his 52 points:
Steph watching Klay's 3rd quarter pic.twitter.com/wP2hLkIeCq
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) January 24, 2015
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) January 24, 2015