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Klay Thompson's return to the NBA after more than two years away hasn't gone as smoothly as he'd hoped. Though he scored 17 in his season debut, he followed that up with three consecutive losses in which he shot just 34 percent from the field. Nobody expected an immediate return to form after tearing both an ACL and an Achilles, but Golden State certainly hoped for a more seamless integration. Getting him back up to speed is going to take time. Thompson took a baby step on Wednesday.

His 21-point outburst was the most he's scored this season, and for the first time since 2019, it meant that he led the Warriors in scoring. Unsurprisingly, Golden State pulled off a 16-point victory over the Detroit Pistons. It was the best night of the season so far for Thompson, whose philosophy thus far this season is starting to pay off. 

"I don't care if I miss 100 shots in a row, I'm never going to stop shooting the ball," Thompson told reporters after the win. "I love it too much, and I work too hard not to."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr approved of the progress. "He's getting his legs underneath him, for sure," Kerr said. "He's looking better and better, and his wind and conditioning has improved." Thus far, Kerr and his staff have limited Thompson to roughly 20 minutes per game. That figure will surely increase as the season progresses and Thompson gets more and more comfortable on the floor. 

The sooner that happens, the better for Golden State. The Warriors have lost five of their past eight and now trail the 34-9 Phoenix Suns by 2 1/2 games for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. With Stephen Curry and Draymond Green both nursing injuries, Thompson has improbably found himself as Golden State's lone healthy star. He took advantage of it Tuesday and took an important step toward recapturing his All-Star form.