Klay Thompson erupted for 60 points in just 3 quarters of play against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night, the most points scored this NBA season and most since Kobe Bryant scored 60 in his farewell game to close out the 2015-16 season against the Jazz.
Klay’s 60 point performance is immediately compared to another one of Kobe’s historic games in which he scored 62 points in 3 quarters against the Dallas Mavericks back on December 20, 2005.
In both games the victory was well in hand which, unfortunately for us basketball fans, prevented both Klay and Kobe from having to enter the game in the 4th quarter and add to their momentous games. Back in that 2005 game, the Lakers were up 95 to 61 on the Mavs at the end of the 3rd quarter, a 34 point lead. Similarly, the Warriors were up by 33 points against the Pacers to end the 3rd quarter on Tuesday (116-83 lead).
Both players were scorching hot from the field but there was a big difference in how Klay and Kobe got their points in their games.
Klay amassed a big portion of his point total from hitting shots from the perimeter, knocking down 21 field goals including 8 3-pointers; whereas Kobe did a lot of damage from the charity stripe, hitting 22 of 25 free throws.
Neither player did much to spread the ball around in their respective games; Klay registered just 1 assist and Kobe ended his game with none. Taking into consideration just how hot both players were it is completely understandable that they were attacking relentlessly on the offense end.
Kobe did a little bit more in his game, finishing with 8 rebounds and 3 steals compared to Klay’s 2 rebounds in his game.
Incredibly impressive is that both games the point totals were scored in a very limited amount of time but in the interest of comparing Klay has the slight edge having played 29 minutes compared to Kobe who played a bit more with nearly 33 minutes in his game.
A bigger disparity between both games is found in the percentage of their respective teams’ points. In Klay’s game the Warriors were far more productive as a team and playing at a much faster pace, scoring 116 points; Klay accounted for just a shade more than half (52 percent) of his team’s points. Conversely, the Lakers outside of Kobe were not playing well. Kobe’s 62 points after 3 accounted for 65 percent of his team’s point total and he actually outscored the Mavs by himself (61 points by the Mavs after 3 quarters).
In terms of strength of opponent Kobe’s match-up against the Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas Mavericks who were 18-7 at the time and on their way to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals that season was far more impressive than Klay’s match-up against the Indiana Pacers who came in with a .500 winning percentage and currently outside of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.
Klay also had a much better supporting cast surround him which means his opponent had to account for his teammates that included former MVP’s Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, along with All-Star Draymond Green. Kobe didn’t quite have the benefit of playing with other stars that would draw attention away from him on his night with the likes of starters Smush Parker, Chris Mihm and Brian Cook surrounding him.
In the end both games were legendary and a part of NBA history but if we must compare Kobe’s game was more impressive considering the strength of his competition and that he did with a far inferior surrounding cast who did far less in his game compared to that of Klay Thompson.
What we did learn after Klay’s 60 point performance in 3 quarters is that we can no longer dismiss the possibility that a player can reach or even top another one of Kobe’s historic games, the 81 he scored against the Toronto Raptors. Kobe dropped 81 on the Raptors just 1 month after the 62 point performance against the Mavs.
Does that also mean that Klay’s 60 point game Tuesday is a precursor to an upcoming 80 point game or better? Is that how this works with scorers that have a propensity to epic offensive blow ups in games like Kobe and as we are now learning Klay Thompson? Unlikely, but at the very least we can safely say it is now plausible and we’ve identified the most likely candidate to pull it off.
Klay Thompson ‘s (via Basketball-Reference.com):
Kobe Bryant ‘s (via Basketball-Reference.com):