Sunday, February 25

Why the Warriors continue to start Moses Moody over Jordan Poole

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Klay Thompson was out again, and Jordan Poole didn’t start in his place. But that doesn’t mean Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has lost faith in the third-year guard.

The decision to start rookie Moses Moody on Tuesday against the Timberwolves instead was more about Poole getting acclimated to his new role as sixth-man as the playoffs quickly approach.

Moody got his sixth starting nod of the season alongside Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Gary Payton II and Kevon Looney, while Thompson missed his second consecutive game with an illness.

The Timberwolves are also one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league, providing further incentive for Kerr to start Moody, whose size and ability could help the team better manage the glass.

“I don’t mind at all, you know, Jordan staying in that sixth-man role because that’s what we’re going to be doing when we’re at full strength and might as well get comfortable with that,” Kerr said. “Jordan has been in that role since Klay came back for the most part.”

Of all the blame going around for the Warriors’ fourth-quarter collapse to the Mavericks on Sunday, perhaps no player took more heat than Poole, who had his worst offensive game in weeks, finishing with just four points on 0-of-7 shooting and was minus-12.

Kerr acknowledged Poole’s rough night, but said he could’ve done a better job putting him position to establish some offensive rhythm, and that he didn’t play him enough in the first half.

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“These games, they all matter but there’s 82 of them,” Kerr said. “So I never worry too much about one game with any player. I look at the big picture. And the big picture is that Jordan’s having a fantastic year. We have great faith in him.”

In 55 games this year, Poole is averaging 16.1 points on 43.5% shooting, 3.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Poole has failed to reach double figures in scoring just nine times before Sunday’s loss, so the Warriors view his tough night as an abnormality rather than a sign of decline.

“He’s had a great year and he’s been a big reason for our success,” Kerr said. “And he’s only in his third year. He still has a lot of growth ahead of him, which is exciting. He just needs to keep working. He’s one of our hardest workers and has a great approach. He has a really bright future, so it’s exciting.”

Porter Jr.’s availability: Kerr would not say how long Otto Porter Jr. will remain on a minutes restriction. The Warriors are choosing to be patient with him considering the 28-year-old has missed a lot of time over the past two seasons. Right now, Kerr’s only concern is having him healthy and available for the playoffs.

“I don’t anticipate there will be a minutes restriction on him in the playoffs,” Kerr said, “but we’re trying to manage the whole season.”

Bjelica out: Warriors forward Nemanja Bjelica missed Tuesday’s game because of a quad contusion he suffered Sunday. He had been listed as questionable.

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C.J. Holmes covers the Warriors for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @CjHolmes22

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