By Antonio Gonzalez
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
OAKLAND, Calif. _ 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 inked 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.”
Bryant was at least pleased with the progress the Lakers showed at the end of a trying first week.
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.
Jordan Hill finished with 23 points and five rebounds to help the Lakers build a 43-33 lead in the second quarter, a run that silenced the crowd and had Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob sitting in a courtside seat with his hand under his chin staring into the stands in frustration.
That was a familiar look last season when Lacob’s team lost several home games to inferior competition, which played a part in Mark Jackson’s firing. This time, Kerr called timeout and got his team to respond.
Golden State scored 14 straight points and ended the half leading 61-55 behind a series of scintillating highlights _ including a behind-the-back pass from Curry that led to a dunk for Andre Iguodala.
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 5 of 7 shots from 3-point range, and Curry finished 10-of-19 shooting, including 3 of 8 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.”
Lakers: Bryant entered the game with 1,716 points against Golden State, the most of any team in the league. … The Lakers started 0-7 in 1957-58.
Warriors: Thompson’s previous career high was 38 points in the home opener against the Lakers last season. … It was just the second time Curry and Thompson each scored 30 points in the same game.
Harrison Barnes had 15 points and four rebounds for the Warriors. He made his second straight start at small forward over Andre Iguodala, who had nine points, six assists and four rebounds. Kerr said he will continue to tinker with his rotation early in the season.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
“These guys, man, you can’t blink against this team. … When you blink, they bust the game wide open.” _ Bryant on the Warriors.
Lakers: Host Phoenix on Tuesday night.
Warriors: Play at Portland on Sunday night.