Jordan Poole had himself an eventful 80 seconds to close the Warriors' wild win over Memphis on Wednesday night. After attempting a somewhat ill-advised 3-pointer that irked Stephen Curry to the point the Warriors star hurled his mouthpiece into the stands, which led to his being ejected, Poole redeemed himself by producing the game-winning layup off a baseline out-of-bounds play as Golden State escaped with a 122-120 victory.
JORDAN POOLE. GAME ‼️pic.twitter.com/rcNtSJMzOm— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) January 26, 2023
So the layup was cool. Steve Kerr said Draymond Green called for the play. Three Grizzlies followed Klay Thompson as he curled around to the strong-side corner, another example of the Splash Brothers' gravity creating backdoor opportunities for teammates, and Poole made a great cut with Ziaire Williams positioned on his top side and the rim vacated.
But what I want to talk about more is this supposed awful shot that Poole took prior to the game-winner. Curry clearly didn't like it and Poole got spit-roasted for it on Twitter, but I'm here to tell you it wasn't that bad of a shot. I might even go so far as to say it was a pretty good shot.
So here's the situation: Golden State was up by two, 120-118, with possession. There was a minute and a half to play. After Klay Thompson came up with a loose-ball offensive rebound off his own missed pull-up jumper, he passed it back out to Poole, who attempted a 3-pointer with 1:20 on the clock, which you can see below.
Before the shot, you can see that Curry was clapping for Poole to give him the ball. Below is a good view of all that transpired from Curry's point of view, concluding with the mouthpiece fastball that got him tossed.
The best video of the Steph Curry mouthguard toss and ejection via @NBCSWarriors. Clearly upset at the Poole shot choice. pic.twitter.com/AdqNbfnqqn— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 26, 2023
I know everyone is going to say, and is saying, that the smart play in this situation would've been to hold the ball and take some more time off the clock. But let's do some math. After an offensive rebound, there isn't another full 24 seconds put back on the shot clock. It only goes back to 14. So even if Golden State had milked the shot clock down to the last second, which likely would've resulted in a far worse shot than the one Poole took, Memphis still would've gotten the ball back with over a minute to play.
If the game was within the final two possessions, or certainly the final possession, yeah, milk the clock. But the Warriors, with just a one-bucket lead and still time for at least two more Grizzlies possessions, needed to score on this trip more than they needed to milk a few more seconds.
With that in mind, they were looking for the highest-quality shot they could get on that possession, and any coach in the world will tell you that 3-point attempts off offensive rebounds are some of the cleanest looks around. Poole was wide open. He caught the ball in rhythm. He's a good shooter who was having a good shooting night. To take that shot, in that situation, was not a terrible decision.
But was it the best decision? Probably not. I suppose giving the ball to Stephen Curry is pretty much always the better play. Indeed, that's what this is mostly about. Poole doesn't have the equity to ignore Curry if he's calling for the ball. But the shot itself? It was not a bad shot.
Also bear in mind, the Grizzlies have the best defense in the league. With a shortened shot clock, by letting Memphis reset its defense the Warriors would've been making life harder on themselves to create the same look that Poole had right in front of him. He didn't make it -- but that doesn't mean he shouldn't have taken it.