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Clippers' DeAndre Jordan looks forward to facing Dwight Howard

They are close friends, but Clippers center DeAndre Jordan and Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard will be foes Monday night.

They both faced adverse circumstances last season, but Jordan and Howard are in better situations now.

With Jordan and Howard having a better season, Jordan said it’ll be a bigger “challenge” for him to deal with the dominating Howard when the Clippers play the Rockets at Staples Center.

When Jordan was asked about his problems last season, about his issues with former Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro, Jordan paused and chuckled before answering.

Jordan and Del Negro were at odds with each other most of last season, leading to Jordan hardly playing in the fourth quarter of games.

Under new Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, Jordan is playing in the fourth quarter of games and he’s been a much better player.

“I learned a few things,” he said about last season. “I learned about dealing with people, dealing with things.”

Jordan and Howard spoke a lot last season, with Howard voicing his frustrations about his health and playing with the Lakers, the team he bolted over the summer to play for the Rockets.

Howard had back surgery in April 2012 and clearly wasn’t the same player he had been after joining the Lakers via trade from the Orlando Magic in the summer of 2012.

Then Howard didn’t flourish under Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system and didn’t get along well with Kobe Bryant on the court.

“He had a tough little stretch last year,” Jordan said. “But he’s in a better place now.

“He’s definitely moving around a lot better than he was last year. I feel like he slimmed down a lot from last year. You could tell last year he was still a little stiff and his back was giving him problems. But hopefully he’ll be back to the 2010-11 Dwight and that’ll be better for the league, definitely better for us. It’ll be a better matchup. ”

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broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter:BA_Turner

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