OAKLAND –- With the votes, at least most of them, already in, Klay Thompson decided to punctuate his place in the All-Star voting process.
With the Warriors showing signs of lethargy in the wake of their rousing rout of the Spurs on Monday, Thompson did plenty of heavy lifting before his teammates woke up Wednesday night and helped him shovel dirt on a 127-107 burial of the Mavericks before a sellout crowd (19,596) at Oracle Arena.
Thompson’s season-high 45 points brought light to a game that for many stretches was a non-narcotic sleep aid. Between the hangover from Monday and seeing Dallas without star forward Dirk Nowitzki, Thompson was a highly effective stimulant.
“It was nice to see the ball go in,” said Thompson, who drained 14-of-20 shots from the field, including 7-of-12 from deep. “I felt like I was due for one, a game like that in the last couple weeks.
“It was more important to get the win and to not have a letdown game, because it was such an emotional night Monday. So I’m proud of the way we came out.”
Fully aware that the voting for All-Star reserves ended Wednesday and will be announced Thursday, Thompson opened the game with a furious first quarter, firing in 12 points, only to top that in the second quarter with 14.
While Thompson had 26 points in the first half, NBA scoring leader Steph Curry totaled three. That’s not a misprint. Forward Draymond Green, so often the facilitator, got into early foul trouble and played only eight scoreless minutes in the first half.
“It was bound to happen,” Thompson said. “Those guys have been playing crazy the whole season, so it’s not a big deal if one of them has an off night once in while.”
The Warriors (42-4) recovered midway though the third quarter, putting the way Mavs away with a 19-5 run to give them a 95-77 lead close the third quarter. Defense, as usual, provided the impetus of the decisive rally.
For prior to that, the defense was downright drowsy.
“Our defensive intensity was nowhere to be found,” coach Steve Kerr said. “But in a game like this, where the other team is shorthanded and maybe you don’t have all of your energy, you have to take care of the ball and be smart. I thought we did a good job of that.”
The Warriors committed only nine turnovers, roughly six below their average, to offset defensive lapses in the second quarter and early in the third. Dallas (26-22) shot 57.1 in the second quarter and made five of their first six shots in the third.
“We knew once we get couple stops in a row that we could blow the game open,” Green said. “And we were able to do that once they hit, like six threes in a row we were able to get a few stops. And once we did that, we were able to get it going on the offensive end.”
The victory put the Warriors into a tie with the 1966-67 76ers for the best record through 46 games. They are one game ahead of the pace set by the 1995-96 Bulls, whose 72 wins that season is the NBA record.
The win also was the Warriors’ 40th in a row at Oracle and pushed to 22-0 their record at home this season.
They did it with ball movement, posting 33 assists – their fifth game with at least 30 – and by summoning just enough energy to outlast team playing on its second consecutive night.
“First time in a long time I can remember drinking a Red Bull,” reserve guard Shaun Livingston admitted.
“It didn’t surprise me, coming off a pretty emotional game the other night,” Kerr said of the early slumber. “We expended a lot of energy and here were in a late January, with the All-Star break still a few weeks away. This is a human-nature game. It happens to everybody. No Dirk, so maybe subconsciously we let our guard down a little bit.”
With a bit of ferocious defense in the third quarter and plenty of torrid Thompson throughout, the Warriors were able to overcome a hangover game and win by 20.
That’s who they’ve become, that team that when one or two or even three players are relatively quiet, there’s usually one or two that spring up to provide counterbalance. On this night, Thompson was more than up to the task.