Steph, Kerr applaud Klay's meaningful new 3-point milestone


SAN FRANCISCO -- Halfway through the third quarter Tuesday night with the Warriors down by 11 points on their home court, Klay Thompson came off a Steph Curry screen, settled his feet and let it fly from a perfect Draymond Green pass right into his shooting motion. 

Swish. Three points, and more history for one of the NBA's greatest shooters of all time.

That 3-pointer gave Thompson a new single-season career high of 277 3-pointers. Thompson's fifth and final three of the night now has him at 278 triples this season in 65 games. He's ahead of Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield (271) by seven threes as the NBA's leader this season, and he has done so in 10 fewer games than Hield. 

"Klay takes a lot of pride in everything that he does," coach Steve Kerr said. "If you asked him, I would say he's probably proud of that, given how good he was before the injuries and then to be out for a couple of years and returned from two major injuries.

"To do what he's done this year, it's taken a lot of work, so he should be very proud."

Thompson didn't talk with the media after the Warriors' 120-109 comeback win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Chase Center, but his backcourt mate and fellow Splash Brother, Steph Curry, did. 

Curry was equally as complimentary as Kerr and made two key points: Thompson's workload and the way he has improved as the season has gone on.

"He's having a hell of a year, based on what he's come back from and how he started the year," Curry said. "He's really stepped up in a big way, pushing himself to new heights. It's amazing.

"And just the fact that he's playing 30-plus minutes a night and is available and is putting himself in position to be able to play at that level physically every night, that's a testament in and of itself and the results come, obviously, in him setting a new record for himself. So that's amazing."

Previously, Thompson's career high was 276 threes in a season. That was set seven seasons ago, in 2015-16. It was Thompson's age-25 season, and his fifth in the league.

He also did so in 80 games, 15 more than Thompson already has played, with five left in the regular season. 

The 2015-16 NBA season was Thompson's second straight All-Star campaign. He averaged 22.1 points per game, then a new career high, on 17.3 field goal attempts, 8.1 3-point attempts and 3.5 made threes per game. All also were career highs at the time. 

The 2015-16 season also was three seasons before Thompson's first of two devastating season-ending leg injuries: First a torn ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, and then a torn Achilles at the end of the 2020 season in pick-up game after rehabbing his knee injury. 

Those two injuries took away Thompson's age-29 and age-30 seasons, maybe even his prime. He returned last season on Jan. 9, 2022 after 941 days in between games. Thompson played 32 regular-season games last season, and all 22 in the playoffs. But he didn't play his first set of back-to-backs in his return until Feb. 13 and Feb. 14 of this season, right before the All-Star break. 

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Now, seven weeks since he turned 33 years old and seven years after the best 3-point season of his career, Thompson is averaging 21.6 points on 18 field goal attempts (career high), 10.5 3-point attempts (career high) and 4.3 made threes (career high) per game, playing 33.1 minutes a night. 

Thompson is shooting 40.8 percent from deep, 2.3 percent better than last season, and better than his last fully healthy season. He shot a lowly 28.6 percent on threes in October and has shot better than 40 percent beyond the arc in three straight months, including four of the six months this season. 

Here are Thompson's last three months as a 3-point shooter: January (43.1 percent, 50 of 116), February (45.4 percent, 59 of 130) and March (40.4 percent, 59 of 146).

Curry's 39 points and eight 3-pointers might have saved the Warriors' season Tuesday night. Thompson's fourth of his five 3-pointers was the latest act of history from long distance for the other Splash Brother, and should be the most meaningful yet.

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