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Why Warriors are frustrated over enforcement of carrying rule after loss to Heat



© Jasen Vinlove | 2022 Nov 1

A peculiar subplot emerged during the Warriors’ 116-109 loss in Miami, when Jordan Poole got called for three discontinued dribble violations — including two in the second quarter alone.  

The infraction, commonly known as carrying or palming the ball, resulted in three of Poole’s five turnovers in a forgettable game for the guard. Poole finished with nine points in 30 minutes and posted a team-worst -30 plus/minus. 

The officials’ emphasis on discontinued dribbling clearly affected Poole’s game. And the Warriors didn’t see it coming. 

“I guess there was an email that went out today,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said.  “Honestly I didn’t check my email. Like, you know, we’ve got a game today. I’m not looking at email. I was shocked because basically the whole league does that. They’ve been doing it ever since Allen Iverson convinced the referees that it isn’t a carry. It is a carry. What Jordan does is a carry. But the whole league has been doing it. So, I guess I’ve got to start checking my email on game day.” 

Referees make bad calls; it’s part of the game. Even during the loss, the Warriors were hurt by a late foul call on Jimmy Butler that got overturned which would have given Stephen Curry three free throws. 

But this is different. This is a rule everyone knows, but doesn’t play by because it’s rarely enforced. 

“Be consistent,” Stephen Curry said postgame. “Let us know how you’re going to call it and that should be the standard every night so we can make adjustments. That’s how the league works year-to-year. Whatever the point of emphasis is and how the game evolves, it’s only right that if you’re going to call it, be consistent. We’ll make adjustments and everybody will keep moving. That’s on them and it’s on us to find that middle ground.” 

The shifty Poole is a special case, though. At least he was treated as such Tuesday.

“Just seems like there was going to be a little bit of an example made tonight, especially certain calls just out in the open that didn’t really impact the game that much,” Curry said. “I do get that there are some that are pretty blatant, they’re going to call it. But like I said, just be consistent and everybody will be happy.” 

All three of the calls on Poole, by the letter of the law, were correct. According to the NBA, “dribblers may not have any part of their hand under the ball, bring their dribble to a pause, and then continue on with their dribble.”

In the fourth quarter, Poole committed his third palming of the game and visibly reacted with frustration. But he definitely took an extra step between dribbles while coming off a ball screen. 

It may seem strange that a new point of emphasis would emerge during the middle of the season. But the NBA has adjusted the way it calls games based on player behaviors. The “rip-through” move that Chris Paul and Kevin Durant used to employ no longer results in free throws. James Harden and others used to kick their legs out or contort their bodies to draw fouls on 3-pointers, which are no longer called. 

Perhaps the officials are reacting to Poole, whose array of hesitations, crossovers, and behind-the-backs fool defenders nightly. His shiftiness is what allows him to blow by his opponents. Sometimes, he gets away with too much freestyling. 

That didn’t prevent the Warriors from getting frustrated by the sudden enforcement. Poole didn’t take the podium postgame, but did send shade the referees’ way in an Instagram story.

Forward Draymond Green noted that while Poole got whistled for three carries, the Heat only committed one — via Caleb Martin. If the officials are going to call it, Green said, they should do it both ways.

“Every guard in the NBA carries,” Green said. “A lot. The best ballhandlers in the NBA carry often. So if it’s a point emphasis, then let’s see it. But I’m not sure how many I’ve seen in my years, and to see three in one game on one guy…if it’s a point of emphasis, great. Let’s see it then. What’d they get, one? I love Kyle (Lowry). I love Jimmy (Butler). They’re great. But they’re not not carrying all game…I’d love to see it continued being called.”