The return of Anthony Davis to the New Orleans Pelicans’ rotation Wednesday night did very little to limit DeAndre Jordan’s impact on the game as the Clippers center dominated the defensive end in the 108-95 victory. Jordan finished with 14 points, 20 rebounds, and 5 blocks. It was his second career 20-rebound game in which he also scored at least 10 points with 5 blocks.
“It’s fun to take on that challenge,” Jordan said after the game. “It’s part of my job to be energetic. If I’m not playing well, I can still play with energy and that spark to get other guys going.”
Chris Paul, who chipped in with 12 points and 11 assists in the team’s third straight win, had nothing but high praise for Jordan after the game, calling his performance “outstanding”.
“He had five blocks, too. He was MVP of the game,” Paul added. “We were a little sluggish. DJ kept telling us, ‘Come on, fellas.'”
Paul – albeit just standing up for his teammate – noted that if Jordan continued playing at this level, we “should be seeing him [DeAndre Jordan] in New Orleans [All-Star Weekend 2014] come February.”
Just a couple months back, coach Doc Rivers challenged Jordan to have a defensive player of the year-like season, in an effort to both motivate the young star and to find a solution to last season’s defensive woes.
“DJ [DeAndre Jordan] kept us in it with his defense and rebounding,” Rivers said in the post-game press conference. “He’s just going after things. He accepts his role and he’s become a star in it. He’s still going to score by doing all of that stuff.”
After a sluggish start to the season on that end of the floor, the Clippers, led by Jordan, seem to have found a defensive identity. Through 27 games this season, the Clippers rank seventh in defensive efficiency, 11th in opponent points per game and 15th in opponent field goal percentage.
Given that rebounding is a key part of a solid defensive possession, Jordan’s focus on the boards this season has been nothing short of exemplary. He has recorded at least 12 rebounds in a game 18 times this season, which puts him second in the category to Kevin Love, who has 20. Jordan is currently second in the league (tied with Dwight Howard) in rebounding, with an average of 13 per game; Love leads the league at 13.7 per game. According to NBA.com’s Player Tracking Data, Jordan leads the league in percentage of rebounds per chance (71.6 percent) – the stat measures the percentage of rebounds the player recovers compared to the number of rebounding chances.
For coach Rivers, Jordan’s performance Wednesday night was a clear indication to his gamely potential. Jordan has to continue to be this reliable as the team’s defensive anchor if the Clippers want to be a legitimate championship-caliber team.
Blake Griffin added 21 points and 10 rebounds. For the Pelicans, Anthony Davis led the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Ryan Anderson finished with 17 points, Jrue Holiday had 13 points and 10 assists, and Tyreke Evans notched a triple-double with 11 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists. Doc Rivers’ son Austin Rivers had just two points in 14 minutes for New Orleans.
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