Warriors will rise and fall with Poole until Steph returns originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay area
SAN FRANCISCO – The Warriors knew from the beginning of Jordan Poole’s time as the starting point guard that they would fly no higher than his wings would take them. They’re getting a good look at the limit.
Though JP has star moments, it’s evident he is years away from reaching his potential. Gorgeous flashes of wonder, when he combines efficiency with spectacle, do not amount to consistency.
Poole’s inconsistency is first among several reasons why the Warriors over the past few days have regressed to the mediocrity they hoped they had left behind. As Poole faltered, so did they.
The five-game win streak that was thought to be this season’s first beacon of progress is in history’s dust bin, displaced by back-to-back losses, the latest a 115-101 thumping by the Orlando Magic on Saturday that stripped away Golden State’s cloak of invincibility at Chase Center.
“They took it to us – all night,” coach Steve Kerr said. “They were the most aggressive team. Felt like they were coming downhill at us, and we just didn’t have much of a response. We just couldn’t get the crowd into it. Couldn’t generate much momentum.”
Poole at his best is a downhill player who gets the crowd into it and is a source of momentum. At his worst, his liabilities submerge his assets.
While it’s unfair to pin the blame entirely on Poole, it’s generally accepted that he is most responsible for orchestrating Golden State’s offense – until Stephen Curry returns, which is not expected until next week.
But there is no doubt that JP has not been able to consistently avoid the problems that have plagued him and, by extension, hurt the Warriors. Specifically, turnovers, shoddy defense and decision-making.
He scored 21 points but shot 5-of-17 (29.4 percent) from the field, including 2-of-11 (18.8 percent) from distance. He got to the line, making 9-of-10, but wasn’t much of a defensive factor against Magic guards Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony, who combined for 32 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds.
Poole managed six assists but committed four turnovers.
On a night when Klay Thompson was a late scratch with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee and Andrew Wiggins was playing for the first time in five weeks, the Warriors needed a productive game from Poole. He was best suited to feed their offensive beast. We’ve seen it before.
Instead, it was two-way forward Anthony Lamb providing the spark, with a career-high 26 points, including five 3-pointers. Donte DiVincenzo and Lamb combined to shoot 10-of-25 (40 percent) from distance, their teammates were 8-of-33 (24.2 percent).
Orlando held a double-digit lead for all but a few minutes of the second half, as once the Warriors fell behind by 11 in the first four minutes of the second half, there were no stirring runs that hinted at a comeback.
“It seems like over the last couple of games that’s what it’s been,” Lamb said. “We’ll make a couple of good plays, get a couple stops or make a couple shots, and then not we’re not stringing together for longer stretches. And that’s how you get on a run. We get a lot of runs started, but then we allow like one mistake or one slip-up to end our run and then our momentum’s killed.”
Curry has been sidelined for 12 games, during which Poole averaged 25.6 points. Only in three of those games did he shoot at least 50 percent from the field. By contrast, he shot less than 40 percent in seven games, including two in which were below 30 percent. He had more turnovers (53) than assists (45).
The Warriors went 6-6 over the 12-game stretch, but the last two, against Eastern Conference lightweights – last-place Detroit and 13th-place Orlando – crushed the good vibes that existed during the five-game win streak.
The time will come when Poole and the Warriors look back on these non-Curry games and see how the experience benefited them. The struggle. The defenses locked in on him. The support of his teammates of him. Yea, there will come a time.
The Warriors hope that time is later this season.