Warriors’ winning streak takes the sting out of JP’s lapses originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO – As the Warriors have rediscovered the art of winning, growing pains are cropping up between moments of glory. Non-fatal misses en route to victory at the final horn.
Such challenging circumstances have placed Poole’s game squarely under a microscope revealing both its brilliance and its flaws.
There were more imperfections than brilliance on display Monday night at a 143-141 victory in double overtime about him atlanta falcons. The Warriors survived, thanks to the extra 10 minutes double overtime gave them, but the video won’t be kind to Poole.
“What I love about Jordan is that he has to reach another level,” coach Steve Kerr said. “These games are great for him to feel what it’s like to be Steph. What it’s like to have the best defender with you, to have the pressure on you, to have to function down the stretch when the game is going to be more physical, and you have to overcome all of that. These are all great learning experiences for him.”
The phrase “learning experiences” is, in most cases, and certainly in this one, a euphemism for performance riddled with mistakes.
The turnovers, an ongoing problem for Poole (he’s averaging more turnovers than assists, 5.1 to 3.7, in the nine games since Curry left the lineup) were there once again, a total of six. Poole’s tendency to dribble valuable seconds off the shot clock before flipping the “rush” switch to attack the offense is frustrating to teammates and coaches alike. The 1-on-2 and 1-on-3 attacks into the paint that kept coming even though they were often parried (Hawks blocked 10 shots, five at Poole) indicate the kind of irrational confidence that ruins possessions.
Then there was the fact that Poole did not properly acknowledge that his friend from the back area, klay thompsonhe was giving the Warriors and the Chase Center crowd a terrific shooting display.
On a night in which Thompson scored 54 points on 21-of-39 shooting (53.8 percent), including 10-of-21 (47.6) from beyond the arc, Poole made 10 shots in the fourth quarter to six for Klay. JP scored 28 points on 11-of-31 shooting (35.5), including 2-of-11 from distance (18.2). The volume of shots is especially noticeable since his teammate was in the zone.
There were at least three occasions where Atlanta’s defense fell asleep on Thompson, the one player the Hawks absolutely had to defend, to the point where he would wave frantically and uselessly for attention.
Here’s the problem: Poole is a shrewd passer who, when wise, borders on excellence. He has had seven games this season with at least seven assists, but none in the nine games since. Curry was forced to stay on the sidelines with a shoulder injury.
Yet here are the Warriors, winners of five straight, with Poole averaging 30.2 points but shooting 43 percent from the field, including 26.5 percent from deep.
“We haven’t won any of these five games without Jordan,” Kerr said. “We desperately need what you are bringing us.”
That is the gift. That’s the fantastic 43-point game Poole produced in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers last Friday. That’s his ability to break through a defense like no one else on the roster aside from Curry. That’s the best of Poole, and it can be electric.
Getting that from him at this stage of his career means also tolerating his worst traits, including possession-killing turnovers.
“I don’t think I’m having bad turnovers,” dramond green said of Poole. “Sometimes he gets caught up in a crowd. But you have Andrew Wiggins and Steph Curry outside, so there will be more people. You can do a better job of identifying the crowd.
“But at the same time, we need him to play the way he’s playing.”
The internal belief is that there will come a time when Poole better understands how to get the best out of his teammates. Until then, the Warriors are willing to put up with those maddening moments, if the wins keep coming.