Poole shines on playoff debut, Curry back as Warriors win | Basketball
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Coach Steve Kerr suddenly faces a playoff conundrum: revive Stephen Curry for Game 2 of the playoffs for Golden State and bring Jordan Poole back to the bench or stick with what has worked so well in the first game and being very careful with curry.
“Yeah, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Kerr said with a smile.
Poole shone in his playoff debut with 30 points, staying in the starting lineup as Curry returned from a foot injury, and the Warriors smothered Nikola Jokic to beat the Denver Nuggets 123-107 on Saturday night in the first game of the first round series.
So far, Curry has had fun watching Poole and Splash Brother Klay Thompson do their thing early on.
“I don’t have any expectations on what’s next because we’re still trying to figure that out because it’s a tough situation to deal with in terms of the quick build-up that I’ve had and it’s playoff type intensity and atmosphere,” Curry said.
Finally healthy, Thompson returned to the playoff scene for the first time in nearly three years after two serious injuries and scored 19 points with five 3-pointers.
“Jordan Poole, wow, what a playoff start,” Thompson said. “…He is just amazing. What a star in the making.
The perimeter combination of Curry, Poole and Thompson proved too much for the Nuggets – Poole acknowledging “it’s pretty deadly”.
Jokic had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Denver, facing a stifling defense in the paint from Draymond Green and Kevon Looney while shooting 12 for 25.
Jokic credited them both for making his shots difficult.
“They have the tools. I think I missed some easy ones, but I think they were defending me very well,” Jokic said. “So I have to be better. I just have to at least make the lay-ups and the easy shots.”
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series takes place Monday night at the Chase Center — which hosted its first playoff game since opening in the fall of 2019. Fans received black t-shirts reading “Gold Blooded.”
Curry came off the bench to contribute 16 points in 21 minutes after missing exactly a month with a sprained ligament in his left foot. The two-time MVP tested him in a Thursday scrimmage, came off the bench and had a minutes restriction. He checked in at 5:58 of the first quarter to a rapturous ovation.
Curry missed his first five shots before a layup that followed a goalie call on Aaron Gordon 1:14 before halftime, then knocked down a 3 from the top of the arc as the Warriors took a lead 58-47 at the break.
Golden State won its last five games to end the regular season and kept rolling.
“Give them credit. They’re a very talented team with huge playoff experience. I think the key stretch was the end of the second quarter,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “You don’t want to play from behind in this building against this team.”
Jokic averaged 28 points, 15.8 rebounds and 8.8 assists in four meetings with the Warriors, three won by the Nuggets but only one in double figures. But Green hadn’t faced Denver this season, so his addition was huge.
“You feel it. He’s kicked it up a notch,” Poole said of Green. “As a leader, we feed off of his energy.”
Green hit a top 3 on Jokic with 1:47 left in the third, then the Nuggets star committed a turnover moments later as Gary Payton II capitalized with a field goal that put Golden State ahead 89 -68.
Green finished with 12 points, nine assists, six rebounds and three blocked shots for a Warriors team that lost last year in the playoff round to Memphis and is back in the playoffs for the first time since he lost the 2019 NBA Finals in six games in Toronto.
It was Thompson’s last playoff game, when he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee which required surgery before tearing his right Achilles tendon in November 2020 and having it repaired – which left him cost over 2 and a half years until he returned in January. .
Gordon and Thompson were hit by a technical double at 6:25 of the second.
“We can’t beat ourselves and the Warriors in the same game,” Malone said, “and we did that tonight.”
Poole warmed up in a ‘Poole Party’ t-shirt and then dazzled on the big playoff stage, shooting 9-for-13 with five 3s starting in place of Curry. He joined Wilt Chamberlain and Mitch Richmond as the only players in franchise history with 30 points in his playoff debut.
“He’s shown he’s ready for just about any moment,” Curry said.
With 2:54 to go, Poole cut one way and then the other through the key for a lay-up and was fouled by Will Barton and converted the game three-pointer. Poole squealed in delight as Curry looked at him happily.
“There’s no better feeling than having guys behind you who’ve fought before,” Poole said.
He had his first six shots and had 17 points at intermission.
Nuggets: DeMarcus Cousins was ejected with 10:28 to go after back-to-back technicals. He had seven points and two rebounds against his former team. … Denver shot 11 for 35 from deep, Jokic missing all four of his 3-point tries.
Warriors: Looney, who played in all 82 regular season games, grabbed seven boards as the Warriors led in rebounds 41-35. … The Warriors went 6-6 in the streak without Curry, winning their last five regular season games.
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