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Defending Jordan Poole's puzzling half-court heave vs. Suns


Jordan Poole, unsurprisingly, sent Dub Nation into shock Wednesday night.

With under eight seconds remaining and the Warriors trailing the Phoenix Suns by three at Chase Center, Poole dribbled up the court where Devin Booker and Jae Crowder were waiting to trap him. Instead of dribbling further into the trap or whipping the ball ahead to a teammate, Poole took one more step and launched from half-court. The shot missed wildly, clanging off the backboard. The Suns corraled the rebound and hung on to win, 107-103.

Poole's heave had many Warriors fans ringing their hands on social media as Golden State lost their sixth game in seven tries with Steph Curry sidelined.

But the decision was sound.

Let's take stock of the scenario the Warriors were facing.

They were down three with 7.7 seconds left and no timeouts. The Suns rank in the top 10 in free-throw percentage as a team, hitting at an almost 80 percent clip.

Poole, who scored 38 in the loss, correctly assumed the Suns would try and foul before the Warriors could get a game-tying shot up.

As Poole dribbled toward Crowder and Booker, the two Suns baited the Warriors guard into thinking they were going to foul him. But Poole didn't wait long enough and Booker was able to drop his hands as Poole started the half-court prayer.

After the loss, head coach Steve Kerr explained Poole's thought process, which was sound, but the execution was just a touch off.

"Jordan was trying the Chris Paul trick," Kerr told reporters after the game. "Where, you know they are going to foul, so as they reach you go up, and they pulled back so they didn't foul him."

Poole believed the Warriors' best chance to tie the game was for him to get to the free-throw line but he didn't want to get fouled before he went into his shooting motion.

"We were in the bonus and we were down three," Poole said after the game. "If I would have dribbled the ball up anymore they would have taken a foul, we would have shot two free throws and then we wouldn't have had a chance to get a three up. I just tried to get a look up.

"Probabaly get three free throws," Poole continued when asked what his aim was with the shot. "Obviously, I was shooting to make it. But they also come with a trap at the half-court line so there really wasn't much to do."

It's a difficult tight rope to navigate but it was undoubtedly the Warriors' best chance to send the game into overtime.

Could Poole have tried to kick the ball ahead to avoid the trap? Sure. But the minute the ball finds his teammate, the Suns likely would have fouled before they could start their shooting motion. The Warriors were in the bonus so they would have shot two free throws and been forced to foul a good free-throw shooting team with under five seconds remaining and no timeouts.

Golden State was out of time and out of options.

RELATED: Draymond tells Crowder 'you choked twice' during animated exchange

Draymond Green defended Poole's smart play on Instagram after the loss.

With Curry on the sideline, no timeouts, and just 7.7 seconds remaining against a top free-throw shooting team, Poole made the smart play to try and get to the free-throw line to tie the game. 

He just needed to wait half a second longer to make sure Booker and Crowder were committed to the foul.

Right play, wrong outcome for Poole and the sliding Warriors.

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