Exasperating JP is failing to reach promise, oozing bad habits


With four players from their optimal rotation unavailable Friday night in Atlanta, the Warriors desperately needed Jordan Poole to be at his finest. This was a prime opportunity for the X-factor to deliver.

And JP remained in the same quagmire that continues to separate him from his immense promise.

Entering with 6:09 remaining the first quarter and the Warriors holding a 23-16 lead over the Hawks, Poole spent the rest of the quarter committing two turnovers, missing his only two shots and expressing indifference to transition defense. It’s hard to be minus-15 in less than six minutes, but that’s what happens when your team is outscored 23-8 during that span.

Things got better for JP after the dreadful start, but he never caught fire in the way that he sometimes does. He was plus-4 in the third quarter, scoring eight points, but minus-5 in the fourth with only two free throws as Golden State’s comeback came up short, resulting in a 127-119 loss.

“We had a couple tough plays,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters in Atlanta. “We had a couple turnovers down the stretch as well. We had a couple plays that we’d like to have back. But you can always say that at the end of every game.”

For his part, Poole finished with 12 points, on 4-of-12 shooting from the field, including 2 of 8 from deep, with four assists, three turnovers, two rebounds and posted a minus-11 over 24 minutes.

It’s not good, but that’s where JP has been of late. He was minus-4 against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, plus-12 against the Phoenix Suns on Monday, minus-11 against the Milwaukee Bucks last Saturday, minus-33 against the Memphis Grizzlies on March 9 in Memphis and minus-3 against the Thunder two days before that in Oklahoma City.

That’s a cumulative minus-50 over the last six games, the exasperating JP.

He was a cumulative plus-67 over the five games before that, the brilliant JP.

He was a cumulative minus-40 in five games before that. Exasperating.

That has been the Jordan Poole experience this season, a zigzag trajectory, a perfect illustration of inconsistency. And it’s presumptuous and perhaps inaccurate to trace this to the preseason spasm of violence from Draymond Green. JP is a shooter whose efficiency across the board – even from the foul line – is appreciably lower than last season. Turnovers are up, and many are the result of overdribbling or solo drives into heavy traffic.

Poole is too talented, has too many gifts, to be accept being defined by his bad habits. But those bad habits keep resurfacing, and they are detrimental to him and the Warriors.

Coming to Atlanta was a chance for JP to move toward setting things right. The need for his brilliance was high. Andrew Wiggins is on a leave of absence, Draymond Green was serving a one-game suspension, Gary Payton II was in street clothes and Andre Iguodala is awaiting surgery on his left wrist. Their absence created a gargantuan void in production.

Stephen Curry contributed 31 points, six rebounds and five assists. Klay Thompson contributed 15 points, a career-high-tying 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals. Kevon Looney came up with a regular-season career-high 18 points, 16 rebounds and a season-high four blocks. Steph and Klay divided 12 turnovers equally, clearly forcing passes in hopes of igniting action, but the veterans left pieces of themselves on the floor of State Farm Arena.

Meanwhile, the Warriors’ bench was outscored 50-27. A backup guard named A.J. Griffin did more for the Hawks, particularly on defense, than JP did for the Warriors.

The result was, well, Golden State’s 10th consecutive road loss.

“The togetherness needs to be there a little bit more,” Donte DiVincenzo said. “But it’s tough when you have (only) 10 guys. Dray was out. Andre and Wiggs. Gary. It’s tough.

“But we still have the firepower to win games on the road. Tomorrow’s a big opportunity for us to bounce back.”

Ahh, tomorrow. That would be Saturday at Memphis, where the Warriors will face the Grizzlies, who happen to be the most irritating of their adversaries.

RELATED: Kerr still believes something good will happen to Warriors

The vets are preparing to play on the second night of the back-to-back. The Warriors are going to need more from the youngsters. It’s another chance for JP to bring the firepower referenced by DiVincenzo. The need for it is urgent.

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