Klay Thompson turned back the clock on Monday night when he scored 54 points in the Golden State Warriors' 143-141 double-overtime victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
Speaking to reporters after the win, Thompson said he's "going to embrace the heck" out of his performance after missing two full seasons from 2019 to 2021 with a torn ACL and a torn Achilles.
"It's a huge accomplishment for me," he added. "There were some hard days for me when I didn't know that this would be possible in real time."
Thompson got off to a rough start this season. He was averaging 15.5 points on 36.3 percent shooting from the field in his first 13 starts.
Just three games into the season, Thompson was asked to address his struggles from the field:
95.7 The Game @957thegame
"I'm not going to go out there & worry about made shots or statistics. I'm just going to go out there & play hard and be a two-way impactful player… I was in the same formula last year & it led to a championship." 💯 <br><br>Klay Thompson on fighting through minutes restriction <a href="https://t.co/jXfwehRU2E">pic.twitter.com/jXfwehRU2E</a>
A win over the Houston Rockets on Nov. 20 appears to have sparked Thompson's turnaround. He dropped 41 points and went 10-of-13 from three-point range to lead the Warriors to a 127-120 victory.
Since that day, Thompson is averaging 23.9 points and making 41.9 percent of his shots behind the arc on 10.9 attempts in 17 starts. His 54-point outing on Monday is the second-best scoring game of his career.
The five-time All-Star scored 60 points in 29 minutes in a 142-106 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 5, 2016.
Thompson made 21 field goals against the Hawks, tying his career high set in the Pacers game.
Given the severity of the injuries he suffered and his age (32), it would be unfair to expect Thompson to play at the same level he did from 2014 to '19 when he was arguably the best shooting guard in the NBA and an elite two-way player.
But Thompson is showing he's still capable of playing at that level from time to time. It came at a great time for the Warriors, as they wait for Stephen Curry to return from a shoulder injury.
The Warriors have won a season-high five consecutive games and have climbed up to No. 9 in the Western Conference standings with a 20-18 record.