Warriors' Poole learned not to poke the bear thanks to Dame


Warriors guard Jordan Poole learned an important lesson as a rookie, courtesy of Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard.

On Nov. 4, 2019, the Warriors won their second game of Poole's first NBA season, beating Lillard's Trail Blazers 127-118. Poole scored 16 points -- albeit on 3-of-16 shooting from the field, making all eight of his free throws -- and he was feeling himself, as Kent Bazemore, Poole's current teammate who was a Trail Blazer at the time, recalled to NBC Sports Bay Area's Kerith Burke ahead of Portland's weekend visit to Chase Center.

"I was here when we played the Warriors last year and they beat us, and Jordan Poole was talking trash to Dame," Bazemore told Burke in a 1-on-1 interview that airs Friday night on Warriors Pregame Live, which begins at 6:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area. " ... He was talking trash to him, and Dame was like, 'All right, I'll remember that.'

"I wasn't with the team [as a trade to the Kings was finalized], but the Warriors played the Blazers in Portland [in January] and Dame went absolutely crazy."

Absolutely crazy is an understatement.

Lillard set a franchise record with 61 points (on 17-of-37 shooting and 11-of-20 on 3-pointers) in Portland's 129-124 win over Golden State on Jan. 20, 2020. With C.J. McCollum out, Lillard also grabbed 10 rebounds and dished seven assists. It was the third of an eight-game stretch last January in which he scored at least 34 points, averaging 45.1 per game during that stretch.

"That's just the type of guy he is," Bazemore continued. "He's a guy -- they say you don't want to poke the bear. He's one of them."

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Lillard's one of the most notoriously competitive players in the NBA, and the Oakland native often plays well against the team he grew up watching. His 28.9 points per game against the Warriors are the most against any opponent in his career, as is the 42.5 percent clip on 3-pointers.

So, it's not like Lillard needed any extra motivation from Poole, but he managed to channel it nonetheless. Friday's game is the first time the Warriors and Blazers have faced off since Lillard's historic night, giving Poole plenty of time to ruminate on Lillard's lesson.

In fairness to Poole, he's not the only one of his NBA peers who has had to learn about poking a bear.

"Dame has always had the underdog mentality," Bazemore told Burke. "You could see last year [in the bubble] when he missed those free throws and the [Los Angeles] Clippers' bench was going crazy, and how he responded to that. That's a guy you really don't want to tick off."

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