Jordan Poole ended up on the naughty list for Christmas.
The Golden State Warriors guard had a monster game in the NBA’s Christmas Day showcase, scoring 32 points as the Warriors took down the Memphis Grizzlies to improve to 16-18. But Poole’s night ended on a down note as he became the first player in the last eight years to be ejected from a game on Christmas.
After the game, the Warriors guard sounded off on the play that sent him to the showers early.
Poole’s Early Exit
Poole had already been called for one technical foul in the December 25 win when he was whistled again with 9:20 left in the fourth quarter after saying something toward the referee. As Ali Thanwalla of NBC Sports Bay Area noted, Poole had been looking for a foul after driving hard to the basket on the previous possession but did not get a call.
After Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. hit a 3-pointer to cut the Warriors’ lead to 106-89, Poole spoke toward the referee and was given his second technical foul of the game, leading to an ejection.
After the game, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr admonished Poole for getting a second technical foul, putting some of the blame on his relative inexperience.
“He knows that he can’t get a second one,” Kerr told reporters, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “He’s still a young player. Jordan was fantastic tonight. We needed his offensive firepower. The way he started the game, he set a great tone. So the great thing with Jordan is, I think he still has a level or two to go to get to the point where he’s really reaching his ceiling. And that involves just playing with poise, whether it’s avoiding the referees or just taking care of the ball at certain times. But he’s doing a great job of competing and helping us stay afloat offensively at times, at key times in the game.”
Poole’s Big Game
The ejection didn’t end up costing the Warriors too much. The Grizzlies were only able to close the margin by three points the rest of the way, with Klay Thompson scoring seven of his 24 points in the final nine minutes and the Warriors getting some big fourth-quarter contributions from reserves Anthony Lamb and Moses Moody.
Even with his early exit, Poole ended as the team’s leading scorer with 32 points. As NBC Sports Bay Area noted, Poole has been stepping up his scoring since Steph Curry went out with a shoulder injury on December 14. Poole has scored at least 26 points in four of the five games since Curry went out, including a career-high 43 points against the Toronto Raptors.
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps speculated that Curry’s absence could be a net positive for Poole, who struggled with shooting earlier in the year but now has the chance to increase his offensive volume and get back into a groove.
“The one potential long-term positive of Stephen Curry’s injury absence was Jordan Poole getting a chance to get into a rhythm and get his confidence back,” Bontemps tweeted. “If nothing else, it appears that has happened.”