OAKLAND (California) • Klay Thompson remembers the night Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors on Jan 22, 2006.
Thompson, a teenager growing up in Los Angeles as the son of a National Basketball Association (NBA) player, was offered tickets to the game. He opted not to go.
Almost 11 years later, he did his best impersonation of a performance he never saw, exploding for 23 of his career-high 60 points in the second quarter on Monday, leading the Golden State Warriors (18-3) to a 142-106 win over the Indiana Pacers (10-11).
"I never would have thought I was capable of that," the 26-year-old said of Bryant's feat. "I don't know (if I could have matched it on Monday)."
His 60 points came in just 29 minutes, making him even better than Bryant in that regard. He became the first NBA player ever to score at least 60 points without playing 30 minutes. The 60-point performance was the first of the NBA season, and first since Bryant went for 60 in his career finale last April.
"We know he's capable of that," gushed Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who saw Thompson pour in an NBA-record 37 points in the third quarter of a win over the Sacramento Kings in January last year. "It always feels like it's a possibility."
29 Klay Thompson's 60 points are the most in a National Basketball Association game with fewer than 30 minutes played in the shot clock era. The guard played 29 minutes.
21 Thompson also recorded a career-high in field goals. He had 33 attempts.
120.2 The Warriors' average points per game following their win over the Pacers on Monday. The last team to average 120 PPG at the end of the season were the Nuggets in 1984-85.
It's a zone to cherish when you're in. It's something you don't take for granted because you never know when it's going to happen again.
KLAY THOMPSON, the Warriors' shooting guard, on his latest feat.
Thompson, whose previous career high of 52 came in that same game against the Kings, hit 21 of his 33 shots and went 8-for-14 on three-pointers, helping Golden State complete a two-game season sweep of the Pacers.
"It definitely reminded me of it," Thompson said in comparing Monday's effort with his 52-point game. "It's a zone to cherish when you're in. It's something you don't take for granted because you never know when it's going to happen again."
The last NBA player to score more than 60 points in a game was LeBron James, who had 61 against Charlotte on March 3, 2014.
James on Monday scored a season-high 34 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers (14-5) snapped their three-game losing streak with a 116-112 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
But the headlines belonged to Thompson.
The guard scored 17 points in the first quarter, 23 in the second and 20 in the third en route to the fourth 60-point performance for a Warrior since the franchise moved west from Philadelphia in 1962.
Wilt Chamberlain had two such games (62 and 63 points), and Rick Barry had a 64-point night on March 26, 1974, against Portland.
Thompson declined to speculate on what his point tally might have been had Kerr not elected to have him sit out the fourth quarter. He was pulled out of the game with 1min 22sec left in the third period.
With Thompson doing a majority of the scoring, Warriors team-mates Stephen Curry (game-high 11 assists) and Draymond Green (10) concentrated on ball distribution. Golden State finished with 45 assists.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE