Warriors

Confident Poole giving Dubs boost off bench at perfect time

Warriors
Jordan Poole driving

SAN FRANCISCO -- It's become commonplace when a player such as Steph Curry knocks down a half-court shot at the buzzer. So whenever someone else does it, a bigger sense of surprise comes with it.

Like when Jordan Poole did it with 0.5 seconds left in the third quarter of the Warriors' game against the Utah Jazz Monday night. 

But Poole isn't a stranger to these shots. He actually knocks them down quite regularly. He and Curry start every practice by bombing half-court shots. Before shootaround ahead of Monday's game, Poole knocked down four of them. 

"It was very fitting that he carried that over and had an opportunity to shoot it," Curry said. "More so, I’m proud that he actually shot it because there’s a lot of guys in this league not who worry about field goal percentage and they don’t even take the heaves because they don’t want to field goal attempt ... so I’m glad he took it."

Poole finished with 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-9 from three, in 19 minutes in the Warriors' 119-116 win. It is the kind of contribution the Warriors got from Poole in mid-March when he averaged 19.7 points over a 10-game stretch. 

And this is the kind of contribution Golden State needs from Poole and the rest of the bench through the final three games of the regular season to lock up the eighth seed in the Play-In Tournament and then into the NBA playoffs. 

 

If the Warriors make it through the play-ins, the Jazz might be a team Poole won't mind facing. He's had good games against them every time. On March 14, he scored 18 points on the same shooting split he did Monday. 

"I always talk to Jordan about being confident and when you’re open, take some shots," Draymond Green said. "He’s a confident kid, works his ass off. You know, it’s always great to see him have these moments and all the work that he put in paying off. It's definitely not by accident. (The) kid works his ass off so he deserves to have these moments, and obviously, we can use them." 

Poole's ability to get downhill and get into the paint off the dribble helps him set up his step back and has become vital to the Warriors' offense in the second unit. 

As the Warriors show no signs of getting reinforcements to their eight-man rotation, the available bodies they do have off the bench -- Poole, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Mychal Mulder -- always need to add something. They've done so over the last several games, and they cannot let up.

"That's how we're going to win," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "If everyone has that mentality that when you’re on the floor, you need to make an impact and you need to be aggressive and confident and make plays on both ends of the floor.

"It’s huge when we can get a number of players scoring because Steph draws so much attention. Guys are going to be open. I thought everyone was really aggressive tonight ... That's what we need. We can’t expect Steph to carry us every night, offensively."

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Curry by no means had an off-night against the Jazz, finishing with 36 points, but his 3-of-13 shooting from beyond the 3-point line was uncharacteristically low. And it's the moments like that, that make Poole such an asset. 

"Jordan's got a lot of ability and tonight he was able to showcase that ability," Kerr said. "Made some big shots, really gave us the spark off the bench that is what his role is. He’s a good shooter, good playmaker and when he’s playing with Steph, he’s going to have a lot of space out there because they’re paying so much attention to Steph. I thought he took advantage of that tonight."

The Warriors won't have shootaround Tuesday morning before their game against the Phoenix Suns, so Poole won't get an opportunity to warm up his half-court heaves with Curry. But perhaps he can just use his performance on Monday as his warm-up.

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