Thompson scored a season-high 27 points on 11-of-24 shooting and the Warriors ended a four-game losing streak, beating the struggling New Orleans Hornets 101-92 on Wednesday night.
The skid started the day after the popular Ellis, Golden State's leading scorer, was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. Thompson replaced him as the starting shooting guard, and he did a pretty good Ellis imitation in New Orleans, taking and making a high volume of shots, including 11 in the first quarter.
"I was being aggressive," Thompson said. "I thought they were 24 good shots. There were a couple maybe that were rushed and not through the offense. Not a lot of rookies get the opportunity to put up shots like that. I'm just glad that coach (Mark) Jackson has the confidence in me to take those shots and play my game."
David Lee added 25 points and 11 rebounds after missing his first seven shots for the Warriors. Reserve Brandon Rush had 16 points, including four of Golden State's 14 3-pointers -- the most the Hornets have allowed all season.
Thompson also tied his season high with four 3-pointers. He entered with the best 3-point shooting percentage (.440) among NBA rookies.
"He's already one of the best catch-and-shoot players in the league," Lee said. "Everything he does starts with his jump shot."
Jarrett Jack had his first career triple double for the Hornets, getting his 10th rebound in the final minute to go along with 17 points and 11 assists. Chris Kaman and Xavier Henry added 13 points, and Jason Smith had 12.
"It did not contribute to a win, but it's cool," Jack said of his triple-double. "Don't get me wrong. It was a game that I felt we had control of early and allowed them to get their momentum early. Once they get into an offensive rhythm, they are tough to stop."
The Warriors trailed 58-51 midway through the third before Thompson sparked a 20-5 run. He hit a 3-pointer and converted a three-point play to give the Warriors a 60-58 lead. He also passed to Rush for a wide open 3 that gave them the lead for good, 63-60.
Thompson wasn't done. He made a nifty pass to a cutting Lee for a dunk and scored in the lane to put Golden State up 67-62.
Lee finished the spurt with an outside shot that made it 71-63.
"We thought we can't lose this type of game," Thompson said. "We feel like we're the better team. We can't have any more slip-ups against teams with a worse record than us."
Thompson has averaged 20 points since Ellis' departure.
"He is a heck of a player, and he's going to be that for a long time," Jackson said of the rookie. "We love and respect Monta Ellis. Part of the reason that made the trade easier is because we had a guy behind him who was ready to play and perform."
Thompson finished off the Hornets with a baseline drive for a dunk that made it 101-90 with 1:30 left, but he had plenty of help.
When the Hornets cut the deficit to 75-72 at the end of the third, Richard Jefferson and Rush sank consecutive 3-pointers to boost the lead to nine. After the Hornets came within 84-79, Nate Robinson hit a 3, Rush scored and Jefferson -- acquired from San Antonio after the Ellis trade -- drained another 3 to give the Warriors a 92-79 advantage.
They led by at least seven the rest of the way.
Golden State was sloppy at the start. An inbound pass thrown by Robinson bounced off the back of Thompson's leg just past midcourt before he realized it was coming. After Thompson saved it, Robinson threw the ball away a few seconds later.
The Warriors quickly cleaned up their act, finishing with only nine turnovers. Robinson had 10 assists.
New Orleans outrebounded Golden State 47-33.
"This usually doesn't happen with this team, but we didn't compete tonight," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "You can't allow a young guy like Thompson to get into his rhythm and not have somebody step up and take him out of it."
That was Ellis' role before the trade.
"I can't just come in right away as a rookie and replace someone like that," Thompson said. "I'm just trying to do what I do and play my style of basketball."
Stephen Curry missed his sixth consecutive game for Golden State with a sprained right ankle. ... Warriors starting C Andris Biedrins sat out with a sprained shoulder he sustained on Monday against Minnesota. ... The Hornets did not attempt a free throw in the first half. It was the first time since Feb. 5, 2011, that New Orleans had zero foul shots in a half. ... New Orleans' last triple-double was by Darren Collison on Feb. 19, 2010. ... Jack's 10 rebounds were a career high.
Brian Windhorst reports from Las Vegas, where Kevin Durant took the court with his new Warriors' teammates and Paul George shined in his return in Team USA's exhibition win over Argentina.
After suffering a gruesome leg injury two years ago, Paul George makes his return to Team USA and scores 18 points in the win over Argentina. Carmelo Anthony credits communication and Kevin Durant is happy to be playing with such a talented group.
For nearly two minutes, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson shared the court for Team USA in an exhibition win over Argentina, giving a first look at Golden State's coming attraction.