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The tone curve has two different options. The one you are seeing and showing is the parametric curve. If you click on that little icon in the lower right-hand corner of the tone curve box it will change to the point curve. The plan will give you more precise control over specific areas of your image. I tend to use the point curve more than the parametric curve showing. Using the point curve coupled with the targeted adjustment tool it is relatively easy to make precise adjustments to any section on your image. I also use the highlights and shadows adjustments on the basic panel. Those adjustments tend to have a more "general" effect on the entire image.
Let me try to regurgitate this...
There are actually THREE highlight/shadow/etc. adjustment tools:
Basic for a more general effect on the entire image
Tone (point) curve with targeted adjustments
Tone (parametric) curve is a compromise between the above two
Am I kinda right?
Wait a minute!
After posting the above, I opened Lightroom to try what you indicated (yeah, I should have done that first). When I clicked on the icon that you referenced, the only thing that happened was that the tone curve straightened out and the sliders went away.
So now it's a point curve. You can click anywhere on the curve and adjust as needed. I like to use the point curve in conjunction with the targeted adjustment tool.
It took a little while but now I understand. I misunderstood your reference to the targeted adjustment tool which, ironically, I've been using extensively. Thanks.