The quiet beauty of Klay having best game since his return


SAN FRANCISCO -- There's a serene beauty in a quietly great game. That certainly was the case with Klay Thompson on Tuesday night at Chase Center in the Warriors' 130-92 dousing of the Dallas Mavericks. 

Klay didn't necessarily catch fire, he didn't have one of his legendary showings from deep and he didn't need to. Coach Steve Kerr felt this was the best he has seen from Thompson and that was clear as day when watching him. 

"I think this was Klay's best game in terms of just his patience and allowing things to happen," Kerr said after the win. "He wasn't forcing things at all." 

Thompson scored 15 points on the night, his season-high is 21. His efficiency, however, was far and away the best it has been through his first seven games this season, earning a season-high plus-26 in plus-minus.

He went 6-for-12 from the field, his best shooting percentage thus far. Klay took five attempts from deep and made three, his highest percentage from there since making his return to the court. The story of the night for the shooting guard, though, was his passing. 

His six assists were a season high, and the last time he played in the 2018-19 season he only dished at least six assists four times. Rookie Jonathan Kuminga said it was "surprising" to see Thompson pass so much, because as the 19-year-old grew up watching the five-time NBA All-Star, he never saw that side of his game. 

Klay has a message for his teenage teammate and everybody else: He's always had eyes in the back of his head. 

"I played point guard growing up, and I played quarterback, so vision was always in my repertoire," Thompson said. 

He also played a season-high 25-plus minutes in the blowout and could have possibly played even more if the game wasn't so out of hand. Part of the reason for his success could be attributed to how Kerr spaced out his minutes and what Klay was doing in between being on and off the court. 

In his previous six games, Thompson would see short bursts of action followed by long lulls on the bench. To keep his legs loose, he could be seen taking a lengthy ride on the stationary bike. That wasn't the case against the Mavs. 

Kerr played Klay the first six minutes of both the first and second quarters and said he planned on giving him three shorter runs in the second half before the Warriors easily took the game out of reach. 

"It felt like there was a better rhythm to it," Kerr said. 

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For all his highlight behind-the-back passes, we're still talking about one of the greatest shooters ever -- especially from behind the 3-point line. He is a Splash Brother after all. 

All three of his 3-pointers were in the second quarter, and his final two came on back-to-back possessions to give the Warriors a 46-35 lead. Jordan Poole said those 3-pointers gave the Warriors a "huge boost." The Mavericks called a timeout after Klay's third 3-pointer of the night, and he walked back to the Warriors' bench with an "I'm back" snarl that brought plenty of smiles to his teammates. 

This all comes back to a feeling that Klay adds that nobody else can. It doesn't always need to be loud, it doesn't always have to be brash. Essentially, it's why he's easily the most universally loved player in basketball right now. 

"My mindset is just to play with energy, great focus and joy," he said. "If I do those three things, I know I'll be successful. I can be my harshest critic at times, especially when I don't have a good night at the office.

"But from what I've been through, just to be able to find joy in the game and play basketball, that's all I'm really consumed with right now."

The fireworks soon will come. Klay soon will have one of those special scoring nights. Before then, take a moment to find the beauty in him quietly having his best game yet since coming back from a two and a half year absence. 

That's finding the joy in the game, and an all-time great.

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