The Bankers Life Fieldhouse must feel like a second home to Klay Thompson.
Thompson scored a season-high 39 points and the Golden State Warriors extended their historic start to 23-0 with a 131-123 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night. The Warriors have won 27 straight regular season games, which ties them with the 2012-13 Miami Heat for the second longest streak in NBA history.
Thompson surpassed his season-high point total of 26 with a spectacular first half. He scored 29 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field, including 8-of-10 from beyond the arc. Thompson finished 13 of 21 from the field and 10-of-16 from 3-point range.
“It’s a great feeling,” Thompson said via CSN Bay Area. “I felt like I was due for a game like that. More importantly, we got the win.”
It was no surprise that Thompson got it going against Indiana (12-8). In his last three games against the Pacers, Thompson is averaging 39.3 points on 52 percent shooting, including 52.5 percent from 3-point range.
Thompson has also been at his best playing at the Fieldhouse. He also scored 39 points in last season’s matchup and hit his first NBA game-winner two seasons ago.
Behind 30 points and six splashes from the Splash Brothers, the Warriors scored 44 points in the first quarter to open up a 16-point lead. The advantage ballooned to 32 late in the third quarter.
“Our guys were locked in,” Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton said. “They were excited about this game tonight. That’s a very good team over there. We were thrilled with the way we played for the first three quarters. Obviously we’re not happy about giving up 40 points in the fourth.”
The Warriors opened the final quarter by missing seven of eight shots and also struggled mightily on defense. The Pacers took advantage and sliced the lead to 18 with 9:13 remaining. Brandon Rush made back-to-back 3-pointers and the lead grew back to 21.
But Indiana kept battling back. C.J. Miles countered with two 3-pointers of his own to cut the lead to 16. Walton was forced to insert Thompson, Curry and Draymond Green back in with 5:49 left.
Even the Warriors’ small-ball lineup (minus Harrison Barnes) wasn’t able to stop the Pacers’ momentum. Indiana eventually made it a two-possession game with 24.8 seconds left and only time prevented the Pacers from coming all the way back. Curry finally sealed the game by making two of four free throws.
“They got momentum before we got to that lineup,” Walton said. “We were hoping not to have to put any of our starting guys back in the game.”
The game showed the Warriors that they can’t afford to take their foot off the gas pedal at any time because of what happens when they do. Thompson injured his right ankle with less than a minute left when he stepped on Shaun Livingston’s foot. Thompson limped to the bench and was in obvious pain. X-rays taken after the game were negative and Thompson was diagnosed with a sprained ankle.
“I’ll be all right,” Thompson said. “Lucky, it’s not a bad sprain. It’s going to be sore for a couple of days. But I should be back in no time.”
“It’s bitter because Klay sprained his ankle in a game that we felt we had control of,” Walton said of the victory. “If we get out to a better start in the fourth, then we don’t even have to get him back on the court. But it’s a freak accident. Sprained ankles happen every game in basketball. People are always getting hurt. It’s no one’s fault. But it does hurt to lose Klay especially when he’s been playing so well lately.”
Thompson also refused to blame the second unit for his injury.
“Our second unit bailed us out in Brooklyn when our first unit wasn’t playing that well,” Thompson said. “Tonight, it was the opposite. Shaun told me ‘We’ve got to be better’. I told him not to worry.”
Curry finished with 29 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and three steals for the Warriors, who set a new NBA record for the best road start (13-0) to a season. Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli combined for 26 points on 12-of-16 shooting, 15 rebounds and two blocks. Brandon Rush had 13 points. Draymond Green added eight points, nine rebounds and four assists.
Paul George led Indiana with 33 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. Miles finished with 24 points. George Hill and Chase Budinger scored 12 points apiece. Former Warrior Monta Ellis struggled all night and finished with nine points on 4-of-11 shooting, five assists and six turnovers.
1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers: 33 straight wins
2014-15/2015-16 Golden State Warriors: 27 and counting