Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson dazzles in win: 'Hard work paying off'

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ahead of the Golden State Warriors' 126-114 win over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night, Warriors general manager Bob Myers said Klay Thompson was ahead of schedule physically since returning from a two-and-a-half-year hiatus. Thompson's shot, Myers said, would come with time.

Thompson said he didn't hear Myers' comments before the game, but the way he played Thursday felt like a direct response: Thompson's shot wasn't just coming, it has arrived.

Thompson finished with 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including 7-of-9 from 3-point range. Twenty of his points came in a 10-minute stretch between the first and second quarters, fueled by six consecutive 3-pointers.

"That felt so dang good," Thompson said. "With everything I've been through, I just really appreciate nights like this. The shooting part is so much fun, and when you see hard work paying off, it hits different now than it did a few years ago. Being happy can be so fragile doing what we do, and it can be taken away from you in an instant.

"I hit my first couple and I thought I played with great pace tonight. And even coming into the second half, I'm proud of myself for not trying to force it. I had 20 thinking I could have a 40-point night or something, but I thought I played a great full game."

Not rushing and playing within the flow of the game has been a priority for Thompson since his first game back on Jan. 9. It's also something he admits he has struggled to do, especially early on.

But when he does, the Warriors say they see flashes of who he was before his injuries.

"He had that look in his eyes. You love to see it," said Stephen Curry, who finished the night with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, 7 assists and 2 steals. "It's a big boost for the whole team."

In addition to his scoring, Thompson had seven assists -- something that has been somewhat of a new trend for him.

"I think he's always had it in him," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Thompson's improved passing numbers. "I do think we have more floor spacing right now ... so the floor's open and he's putting the ball on the floor, getting it into the paint and doing a good job of finding open players."

According to Curry, now that Thompson is back and shooting the ball more like he did before, opposing teams are starting to defend him harder. This has allowed him to become more of a ball handler and passer.

"Taking what the defense gives him," Curry said. "He's shown he can be an amazing playmaker and use that against the defense if they want to be super aggressive to close out to him.

"He's got to continue to find that balance because we know he can shoot, we know he can score, and until he's playing his full 30-plus-minute rotation, that balance is very important for him to continue to get rhythm in our offense."