Thompson and Warriors cruise past 0-4 Lakers
Klay Thompson celebrated his big payday with a breakout performance against the player he idolized as a kid growing up in Southern California.
Thompson scored a career-high 41 points in his first game since signing a contract extension, teaming with backcourt star Stephen Curry to carry the Golden State Warriors past Kobe Bryant and the winless Los Angeles Lakers 127-104 on Saturday night.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s a great feat,’’ Thompson said. “It’s something I’ll look back on one day and say, ‘That’s cool.’’’
Thompson, who signed a four-year maximum extension worth about $70 million Friday, shot 14 for 18 from the floor. Curry added 31 points and 10 assists, and the Warriors withstood Bryant’s big plays to thrill a blue-shirt wearing sellout crowd of 19,596 in the team’s home opener.
“It was like the rising star at that position going against the guy who’s been the best for 15 years,’’ Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It was fun to watch.’’
Bryant scored 19 of his 28 points in the third quarter and nearly brought the depleted Lakers back with one improbable shot after another. Instead, Thompson smothered Bryant in the final quarter - holding him to one point - and Los Angeles lost its fourth game in five nights.
The Lakers are 0-4 for the first time since the 1957-58 season when the franchise was located in Minneapolis.
“Just stay the course,’’ said Bryant, who shot 12 of 28. “We still have a lot of room for improvement, but we’re moving in the right direction.’’
The team already has ruled Steve Nash out for the season because of a nagging back injury and first-round pick Julius Randle broke his right leg, ending his rookie campaign. The Lakers are also playing without Nick Young (right thumb) and Ryan Kelly (sore right hamstring).
Warriors power forward David Lee sat out with a strained left hamstring for the second straight game, which Kerr attributed to another slow start. Unlike the Lakers, though, Golden State could lean on its talented tandem and a deep roster to eclipse Bryant’s brilliance.
All of Bryant’s brilliance, including a twisting layup while getting fouled by Festus Ezeli late in the second quarter, couldn’t lead the Lakers to victory. He showed off an array of fadeaways and runners in the third quarter that even left some Warriors fans wowed.
“He was making some crazy shots,’’ Thompson said.
But Golden State’s dynamic duo erased anything Bryant did. Thompson made five of seven shots from 3-point range, and Curry finished 10-of-19 shooting, including three of eight from beyond the arc.
“It’s tough to stay on top,’’ Thompson said. “They’ve had their great runs. I think it’s the Warriors’ turn, man.’’