CLIPPERS

DeAndre Jordan is a presence as the Clippers beat the Chicago Bulls, 120-93

The Clippers are doing all sorts of strange things these days. They're using lineups that include four guards, asking shooting guards to play power forward, and giving up a handful of inches defensively at several positions.

One thing hasn't changed: DeAndre Jordan is still manning center.

"It's the same thing for me," Jordan said.

Jordan's presence has led to consistency in the won-loss column even with power forward Blake Griffin sidelined for more than a month. The Clippers' 120-93 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday at Staples Center represented their fourth consecutive victory and improved their record to 15-3 since Griffin was sidelined by a quadriceps injury and now a broken hand.

Jordan was a factor in almost every category against the Bulls, snagging 20 rebounds to go with 17 points, four assists, four blocks and one steal. He even made five of eight free throws, including four of six while being intentionally fouled, leading to a new title from Clippers Coach Doc Rivers.

"Free-throw maker," Rivers said of a player who has long struggled in that department. "It's been amazing."

Jordan's strong play across the board and a scoring spree from reserve guard Jamal Crawford, who collected 12 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, helped the Clippers complete their best January in franchise history by going 11-3.

Crawford was a blur in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter. He completed a pair of three-point plays in which he was fouled and made the free throw, unveiled a crossover dribble that led to a driving layup and flung a pass to Wesley Johnson in the corner for a three-pointer.

Crawford said Rivers had instructed his team to be on the attack heading into the fourth quarter.

"I was like, 'OK,'" Crawford said. "As of late, especially with big fella out, I just wanted to be a little bit more aggressive."

By the time the flurry was over, the Clippers were ahead by 18 points and well on their way to perhaps their best victory of the season on their home court. The Clippers' bench outscored its Chicago counterpart, 58-18, continuing a trend in which the reserves have sparked each of the team's victories on its winning streak.

"Our bench has been better than fantastic," Rivers said. "They're actually changing games, and it's with their energy."

The starters haven't been bad, either. J.J. Redick scored 21 points on seven-for-11 shooting and Chris Paul had 19 points and seven assists for the Clippers (32-16), who have gone 25-8 since starting the season 7-8.

Jimmy Butler had 23 points for the Bulls, whose defense was unusually soft while allowing the Clippers to score 69 points in the second half and shoot 53.6% for the game.

Jordan has experienced a spike in scoring and rebounding since Griffin last played, on Christmas. The center has averaged 13.6 points and 15.0 rebounds since Dec. 26. He extended possessions as the Clippers tried to find a rhythm early in the game against the Bulls, getting four of his 12 rebounds in the first quarter on the offensive end.

Chicago intentionally fouled Jordan in the final minute of the second quarter and he split the free throws. The Bulls tried the strategy again in the third quarter and Jordan made three of four attempts, causing his opponent to go back to playing basketball.

"I'm getting more and more confident," Jordan, who also made four consecutive free throws during a recent victory over the Atlanta Hawks, said of his mind-set at the free-throw line.

The same could be said of the Clippers, who have not slipped in the Western Conference standings even with their All-Star power forward sidelined for an extended stretch. Rivers said he liked that his team had learned how to play two ways as a result of Griffin's absence, both with a traditional lineup and the small-ball approach that has served it so well in recent weeks.

"The way I see it," Rivers said, "now we have the two groups we needed to have going into the playoffs."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on February 01, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Jordan at the center of it all - His across-the-board play and a Crawford scoring spree close month in style. - CLIPPERS 120, CHICAGO 93" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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