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Jordan Poole’s old teammates keep climbing as Wizards fall to Warriors

Jordan Poole’s old teammates keep climbing as Wizards fall to Warriors

Tooba Shakir 54 years ago 0 1

There was no shock at the end of Tuesday night’s game at Capital One Arena, neither in the final score — a 123-112 win for the Golden State Warriors that extended the Washington Wizards’ losing streak to 12 — nor in what transpired afterward.

The Wizards’ Jordan Poole worked his way deeper into the postgame swarm in front of the Warriors’ bench with every dap, handshake and shoulder pat. The hugs from his former teammates were as plentiful as you would expect for a young guard who spent the first four years of his career and won a championship with Golden State. They came from at least five different coaches as well as Moses Moody, Jerome Robinson, Brandin Podziemski, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who patiently waited to greet his friend.

Absent from the list, of course, was Draymond Green, Poole’s former teammate and mentor who infamously punched him during practice in October 2022 — not exactly the shock of the century.

The surprise, rather, might have come from the mundanity of Tuesday’s matchup between teams trying to figure things out, albeit at two very different stages of NBA existence. After the game, neither Green nor Poole fielded questions about the fracas. Both played bit parts on the court: Green finished with six points, eight rebounds and eight assists; Poole had 12 points on 5-for-17 shooting and five assists in his fourth game coming off the bench.

The only lick of fog still lingering from that controversy hovers around Poole.

Green’s punch was an animating factor in forcing the Warriors to reassess their grand plan; Poole was traded last summer and hasn’t found his footing in Washington. Three games after he was bumped from the starting lineup to the bench, he had the unfortunate luck of facing the Warriors, who happen to be going through something somewhat similar: Coach Steve Kerr made Thompson a reserve just a few games ago.

On Tuesday, Thompson powered the Warriors, pouring in 25 points thanks to a mighty third quarter that was the difference in an otherwise competitive game. Since moving to the second unit, he has turned in a 35-point game and a 23-point performance in addition to Tuesday’s romp.

Poole had 31 points in a loss to Cleveland on Sunday after notching 21 in a loss at Oklahoma City on Friday, but he floundered Tuesday. He swung between showing chutzpah and flashes of easy brilliance at times — a smooth three-pointer in Curry’s face on his first possession — and wild ballhandling and decision-making. He committed six unsightly turnovers on a giveaway-heavy night for Washington, which finished with 20.

Thompson has 10 years of experience and is operating inside the familiar and sturdy scaffolding that is the Warriors’ machine. Poole is 24 and, as he put it before the season, trying to find consistency with the inconsistent Wizards (9-49).

“After playing 50 games with a feel and a play style that’s been mixed up — guys are out of the rotation, guys are in the rotation, I’m not starting — that probably is what I would say is something that’s very … I feel like you can see it,” Poole said last week while speaking of the team as a whole. “The connection’s a little bit different. There’s been so much change.”

Poole said he hasn’t spoken with Thompson about their similar situations. Asked Tuesday whether he agrees the change in his role was necessary to get the ball in his hands more often — that was Washington’s reasoning for altering its starting lineup — Poole said: “I think we could do it a different way — I’ve expressed that. I’m a professional. Whatever the team needs me to do, I’ll do. I’m always going to go out there and try my best to help us win. If this is the way we need to go about it in order for me to be on ball, I guess it is what it is.”

He noted that the change with Thompson is different because the Warriors (30-27) are making a playoff push after a rocky start.

“They’re in the hunt, so if that’s what you need to do in order to win a championship, I feel that,” he said.

For all of rebuilding Washington’s changes this season, plenty has stayed the same. The Wizards still struggle in the third quarter. Kyle Kuzma (27 points, 12 rebounds) remains their most dependable scorer, with supporting cast members such as Corey Kispert and Marvin Bagley III (20 points apiece) rounding out the box score. And Poole is still searching for stability.

“It’s hard to be consistent in an inconsistent environment,” he said. “You’ve got to just find a way to keep going. Find a way to accept the challenge, embrace it, hope the tide turns. But all you can do is control what you can control.”

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