SAN FRANCISCO — Hands raised in the air, Warriors guard Jordan Poole turned with a grin to celebrate a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Tonight, he had several reasons to smile.
Poole’s career night helped lift the Warriors to a 109-95 win over the Magic at Chase Center Saturday evening and snap a 10-game losing streak. After stepping back into the 3-pointer, he gave the Warriors an 11-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
However, the Warriors (10-34) almost celebrated too early. One game after relinquishing a 19-point lead in Thursday’s loss to the Nuggets, Golden State gave up a 13-point, third quarter lead after the Magic (20-23) opened the final period with a 20-8 run capped off by center Nikola Vucevic’s dunk to take a one-point lead with 4:43 to go.
The Warriors ended the game with a 19-4 run by playing stout defense, moving the ball and getting to the rim. Orlando scored only two points in the final 4:07.
For the Warriors, the win snaps the team’s worst losing streak since the 2001-02 season and provided an encouraging sign of progress.
Following Thursday night’s collapse, the Warriors remained poised and executed late in a game they were missing stable contributors in forwards Draymond Green (left index finger sprain) and Glenn Robinson III (ankle).
After starting the game in a 13-0 hole, the Warriors didn’t make their first shot until Poole made a 3-pointer with 7:10 left in the first quarter to spur a 21-4 run to take the lead. Poole, the No. 28 pick in June’s draft who spent the first half of the season as the league’s worst rotation shooter, is in the midst of the best stretch of his career.
With 21 points on 8-for-19 shooting (4-for-10 from 3-point range), three rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes, Poole has scored in double-digits in each of the last four games. Guard D’Angelo Russell had 26 points on 9-for-21 shooting (4-for-12 from 3-point range) and 12 assists, including a cherry-topper corner 3-pointer with 19.3 seconds left.
In some ways, Poole has come to symbolize the Warriors’ season. After making only four field goals in the entire month of December, Poole went to the G League for developmental purposes. Since returning to Golden State last week, he has displayed renewed confidence and a heightened level of play.
For the organization, this season is about progress, and it’s arguable that no Warrior has made more progress thus far than Poole.