They were six seconds that showcased the dual brilliance of
Sensing the play about to develop early in the third quarter, the
Jordan roared in approval at his double impact, which was largely the story of the Clippers' 105-90 victory over the
The Clippers learned they would get Blake Griffin back next weekend after he completes a four-game suspension for punching a team assistant equipment manager but continued to persevere with Jordan manning the interior.
He was strong across the board with 16 points, 16 rebounds, six blocks, two steals and two assists to help the Clippers clinch a fifth consecutive playoff appearance, one more than they had compiled in the previous 35 years.
Jordan has become a more reliable two-way threat, his offense transcending dunks now that he has added finger-roll layups and hook shots to his arsenal.
"He's expanding his game, he's improving and he works at it," Clippers forward
Jordan was even slightly better than normal in that department Sunday. He made two of four free throws, an improvement over his 43.9% accuracy coming into the game, but it was his defensive presence that mostly thwarted Denver.
Ten seconds before he blocked Arthur's shot, Jordan had swatted Gary Harris' driving layup. His presence alone changed the way the Nuggets played.
"For every shot that he doesn't block, he has guys hesitating," Denver Coach
The Nuggets entered the game without forwards
They avoided a similar fate after outscoring the Nuggets, 25-12, in the third quarter to break open a taut game. Paul finished with 14 points, nine assists and six rebounds, his bid for a triple-double ending when Coach
Jamal Crawford (14 points),
The Clippers improved to 28-14 without Griffin, who is expected to return April 3 against the
"Blake's a great interior passer," Jordan said, "so I think I'm going to get the same looks and the same shots in our offense."
Rivers has equated Jordan's importance on the Clippers to that of All-Stars Griffin and Paul since the day the coach arrived in the summer of 2013. It initially felt like Rivers was just being nice; now it feels like he was clairvoyant.