Klay comes off the bench for the first time in

Klay comes off the bench for the first time in his career and then drops 35 points as the Dubs win

February 16, 2024, 12:14 am ET

Coming off the bench for the first time since his rookie season, Klay Thompson hit seven 3-pointers and scored a season-high 35 points, leading the Golden State Warriors to a 140-137 victory over the host Utah Jazz on Thursday night .

Thompson was a reserve for the first time since March 11, 2012, during the lockout-delayed first season of his career. Rookie guard Brandin Podziemski replaced him in the starting lineup and had 13 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds.

“You can do two things: You can sulk or you can go out and answer,” said Thompson, who became the sixth Golden State player to surpass 15,000 points. “I thought I did the latter very well tonight.”

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Thompson had started 727 consecutive games, the fourth-longest active streak in the NBA, behind only DeMar DeRozan, Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry.

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Coach Steve Kerr had a conversation with Thompson on Thursday morning informing him of the change in the starting lineup. Kerr acknowledged that Thompson wasn't thrilled with the decision and that it led to his best offensive performance in a season of ups and downs.

“It was a difficult season for him and for us,” said Kerr, who earned his 500th victory as Golden State coach. “It's not that easy to do what Klay did for him five or six years ago. I think that could be a good balance to get the best out of Klay and get the best out of our team.”

Thompson, who missed the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons due to injury, has struggled at times this season. He is averaging 17 points, his lowest since his second season, and has occasionally not been part of coach Kerr's target lineup.

“He’s just a real competitor,” Kerr said after the game. “I’ve seen him win championships. I saw him shoot a million balls. I've seen him guard the toughest players in the league. Klay is a champion. He’s an incredible player, a great person.”

Thompson scored 17 points in the Warriors' 84-point first half, but they needed a missed 3-pointer from Collin Sexton to hold onto their eighth win in 10 games.

Golden State scored a total of 48 points in the second quarter, a season high for both the Warriors and a Jazz opponent.

Thompson increased his dominance after halftime, scoring 18 points in the third quarter alone. He scored five baskets in four minutes – including four 3-pointers – and helped Golden State extend its lead to 120-102 early in the fourth quarter.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, his 35-point game was the first for a Warriors player off the bench since Ian Clark in 2017 against the San Antonio Spurs.

“I thought about it [former Spurs great] “Manu Ginobli, this guy has four rings and a gold medal, and he came off the bench his entire career, and I don't think anyone is looking down on his candidacy for the Hall of Fame,” Thompson said. “He's one of the greats.” And I thought, I mean, I took it before the tip, and I mean, I really deserved it. “

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.