OAKLAND – This was a game the Warriors and their fans have been waiting to see -- Klay Thompson coming completely out of his deep freeze into the splash zone.
Thompson’s scorching first-quarter shooting Wednesday night launched the Warriors toward a tip-to-buzzer 116-95 victory over the Dallas Mavericks before a relieved sellout crowd (19,596) at Oracle Arena.
That the Warriors never trailed was largely because of Thompson’s early work, as he scored 18 of his 20 points while playing all 12 minutes of the first quarter.
Moreover, Thompson looked like the sharpshooter he is, draining his first seven shots, four of which were 3-pointers.
“It was good to see him get that 3-point stroke going,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He started out on fire. It didn’t carry over for the rest of the game, but he had a tremendous first quarter and you could see it coming. It’s absolutely coming with Klay.”
Though Thompson didn’t score in the second half, he appears to be free of the uncharacteristically poor long-distance shooting that hampered him through the first seven games, during which he shot 20.8 percent beyond the arc. For his career, Thompson is a 42-percent shooter from long distance.
“I feel like it’s coming every game, honestly,” said Thompson, ever confident.
“It’s what we expected and it’s going to continue as we go through the season,” Stephen Curry said of his backcourt partner. “Nobody’s really worried about Klay and him shooting the ball. That’s what he does. He wakes up and shoots the ball.”
Thompson had some early help from forward Draymond Green, who also had his best 3-point shooting game of the season, making four of the five he took before halftime. He finished with 16 points, 14 of which came in the first half.
The Warriors, having built a very comfortable 31-point halftime lead, once again fell victim to their own complacency against a Mavericks team without most of its rotation Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Devin Harris, Jose Juan Barea and ex-Warrior Andrew Bogut all were unavailable.
With ex-Warrior Harrison Barnes and Stanford product Dwight Powell leading the way, Dallas outscored the Warriors 32-17 in the third quarter and got as close as 13 in the fourth.
“We let our guard down and came up and was just out there,” Green said.
“It’s a danger in the NBA, period,” Kerr said. “I’ve seen it with every team I’ve ever been on. If you’re up by 30 at the half, you let your guard down. The other team, even when they are sitting guys, they have great players too.”
Never were the Warriors truly threatened. Indeed, the worst thing that happened was Curry tweaking his right ankle early in the third quarter. He got re-taped, returned and showed no discernable limp.
“If there is any issue there, I won’t hesitate to sit him,” Kerr said, referring to Thursday night’s game at Denver.
Curry, for his part, said he expects to play.
“It’s just a little bruised,” he said. “I got back out there, so I’ll be fine.”
Even ankles seem a little less sore when the shots are falling as they did Wednesday night. The Warriors were 17-of-33 from deep, their best performance of the season. They shot a season-high 58.1 percent overall.
“The shots that we’ve gotten all season, we started knocking down,” said Kevin Durant, who posted a game-high 28 points. “Klay got his start and Steph picked us up in the third, when we weren’t as good, energy-wise, as we should have been.
“We kind of cruised from there. When you make shots, it makes everything better.”
No doubt. Ask Klay Thompson.