Russell Westbrook drove toward the basket to find the outstretched arms of DeAndre Jordan waving in his face.
Westbrook missed the layup and Jordan grabbed the rebound.
The first possession Friday night at Staples Center was a victory for the Clippers center and his team's defense.
It seemed like just about the only one during the Oklahoma City Thunder's 118-112 triumph in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Jordan was the captain of a defense that continually mutinied, allowing the Thunder guards drives for layups or passes that led to point-blank baskets.
Oklahoma City scored 48 points in the paint and outrebounded the Clippers, 44-33, in taking a 2-1 series lead and reclaiming home-court advantage.
The 6-foot-11 Jordan collected 10 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, but those weren't numbers anyone will remember on a night the Clippers' defensive rotations chugged along against a Thunder offense that made 55.7% of its shots.
"They got everything," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. "They got threes, they got layups, they got key second shots. Down the stretch, they got every big play."
Jordan made a putback that pulled the Clippers to within 108-105 with 2 minutes 56 seconds left. But he could only chuckle in dismay after committing an offensive foul while going for a rebound with 1:12 remaining and the Clippers trailing by six points.
It was another laughably bad showing for Jordan and the Clippers' defense.
Jordan was so miffed afterward that he tried to walk out of the locker room without speaking to reporters before a media relations executive stopped him, triggering an expletive from Jordan.
"You don't want to give up easy baskets to guys like that who are going to shoot the ball a lot during the game," Jordan said. "You want to make it as tough as possible. It's just the things that we go over a lot in shoot-around and in practice, like backdoor cuts and not boxing out Westbrook, things like that are kind of deflating."
After reaching double digits in rebounds in five of the Clippers' seven games in the first round — including a 22-rebound effort that tied the franchise record — Jordan has fallen short of that threshold in two of the first three games against the Thunder.
His drop-off in production is a big reason the Clippers have been out-rebounded in each game of this series.
Rivers said before the game that because Kevin Durant and Westbrook were in constant attack mode, Jordan would be playing a lot of help defense, taking him out of position to get rebounds.
"He has to get back to the glass," said Rivers, who also placed an onus on his team's guards to be more physical in rebounding.
It didn't exactly happen Friday, with starting guards Chris Paul and J.J. Redick combining for five rebounds.
Jordan had some active moments early, usually a precursor to a big game for him.
He took a lob from Paul for a two-handed dunk that gave the Clippers a 7-0 lead, grabbing the rim and swinging his body backward for added emphasis He then leaped while wedged between Durant and Reggie Jackson to snatch a rebound and keep a possession alive.
But the defensive breakdowns persisted.
"We stopped them a couple of times and our initial defense was pretty good most of the time," Jordan said, "but just cleaning up the possessions — they got too many offensive rebounds. I feel like we played great defense in spurts and we can't do that against a great team like this."
A play late in the second quarter symbolized the ease with which the Thunder scored. Jordan extended his arms to meet Westbrook driving toward him, just as he had on the game's first play, only to have Westbrook twist around him for a layup.
It was almost as if the Clippers' defense wasn't there. Which, for much of the night, was true.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times