SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Jordan Poole is far from a finished product, and the fourth-year guard showed both signs of brilliance and struggles controlling his emotions on the big Christmas Day basketball stage.
Poole scored 32 points — highlighted by emphatic one-handed slam off a pass from Draymond Green in the third — to outduel Ja Morant before being ejected early in the fourth, and the Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies 123-109 on Sunday night in a rematch of the Western Conference semifinals won by Golden State.
“When we’re locked in and we’re playing for each other we’re a damn good team,” guard Donte DiVincenzo said. “The big thing for us is when we’re tested with adversity.”
Coach Steve Kerr wasn’t thrilled with the technicals, though he got one, too.
Morant scored 36 points while debuting his first Nike signature “Ja 1” shoe for the Grizzlies’ first Christmas Day game.
Klay Thompson added 24 points and nine rebounds, DiVincenzo had 19 points and Ty Jerome came up big off the bench in the third for 14 points as the Warriors played their 10th straight Christmas game.
Kerr credits Jerome for settling the team down when he’s on the floor, especially important after a tough 1-5 trip with the team trying to build something during an eight-game stay at Chase Center.
“We need wins, on the road, at home,” Jerome said. “Every game is huge for us right now.”
Facing a Grizzlies team that is healthy at last and using its regular lineup, tensions were high just like that playoff round seven months ago. Poole was tossed for the first time in his career with 9:20 left and Golden State had six technicals.
“He knows that he can’t get a second one. He’s still a young player,” Kerr said. “Jordan was fantastic tonight and we needed his offensive firepower.”
Poole hit back-to-back 3-pointers 22 seconds apart in the first as the Warriors played without injured reigning NBA Finals MVP Stephen Curry for a fifth straight game because of a shoulder injury. Poole had 17 points in the opening quarter on 5-of-9 shooting with three 3s.
The Warriors used a 19-8 burst to begin the second quarter to lead 52-37. But Memphis roared back, getting to 59-54 on three free throws by Tyus Jones just before halftime following a technical on Poole.
Steven Adams grabbed 14 rebounds for Memphis, coming off a 125-100 victory at Phoenix on Friday night in its seventh wire-to-wire win this season. Desmond Bane played his second game back from a 17-game absence with a sprained right big toe.
Green had been questionable with right foot soreness but tested it during a walk-through and was fine to go, contributing 13 rebounds and 13 assists.
Grizzlies: Morant missed 8 of 10 3s, Bane was 0 for 7 as the Grizzlies went 9 of 39 from deep. … Memphis had won the last two against the Warriors, who have won eight of 10 overall in the rivalry. … The Grizzlies held the Suns to 43.7% from the floor Friday and Golden State shot 47.3%.
Warriors: All-Star Andrew Wiggins missed his 10th straight game and 12th overall with a strained muscle in his right thigh area. … Green was hit with a technical at the 3:08 mark of the first, his 10th of the season. … Curry will miss at least two more weeks for Golden State as he recovers from a partial dislocation of the left shoulder he suffered Dec. 14 in a game at Indiana. … Golden State played on Christmas Day as defending champion for the fifth time and is 4-1 in those games. The Warriors are 15-17 overall on Christmas and 8-5 at home.