Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole had one of his finest scoring games of the season on Wednesday, but the performance was soured by a strange decision in the final seconds of the loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Poole scored 38 points against the Western Conference-leading Suns on March 30, though the Warriors fell short in part due to Poole’s decision to heave a half-court shot down three points with five seconds still remaining. The shot bounced off the backboard and the Suns grabbed the rebounds, hitting a free throw to ice the contest.
After the game, Poole explained why he decided to take the low-percentage shot instead of using the remaining seconds to try to get a better attempt.
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The half-court heave drew some scorn on social media, with some questioning whether Poole realized how much time was remaining on the clock. The Warriors guard said after the game that he was well aware of the situation, and was trying to get up a shot before the Suns had a chance to freeze the possession. Because the Warriors were in the bonus, the Suns could have fouled Poole and sent him to the line for two free throws, taking away any realistic chance the Warriors would have had to tie the game and send it into overtime.
When asked what he was thinking with the ball in his hands and time running out, Poole said he saw the Suns setting up a trap where he would likely be fouled before having a chance to shoot.
“Probably get three free throws,” Poole replied, via SI.com’s Inside the Warriors. “Obviously I was shooting to make it but they also sent a trap. There was a guy in the middle and a guy on the half court line. There wasn’t really much to do.”
“We were in the bonus and we were down three,” Poole added. “If I would have dribbled the ball up any more, they would have took a foul, we would have shot two free throws and then we wouldn’t have had a chance to get a three up.”
Warriors Skid Continues
The loss to the Suns was the fourth straight for the Warriors, who have struggled with Steph Curry out of the lineup with a foot injury. It was Curry’s Splash Brother, Klay Thompson, who struggled the most in Wednesday’s loss. He went cold against the Suns, making just five of his 21 shot attempts and going just 1-for-10 from three-point range.
After the game, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said he is encouraging Thompson to keep shooting and for the team to keep running the offense that generates open shots.
“Not totally unexpected coming off of a two and a half year absence,” Kerr told reporters after the game, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “A lot of ups and downs, and he’s such a competitor, he wants to do well so badly, he tends to press when things aren’t going his way. That’s just because of how much he cares, and we’ve just got to keep encouraging him. The whole point is we’ve got to get great shots for each other.”