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Clippers

Clippers have been doing it with defense

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Clippers center DeAndre Jordan was averaging 10.3 points with 18.3 rebounds per game going into Thursday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

At the head of the Clippers No.-1 ranked defense is nuisance point guard Patrick Beverley and at the end is intimidating center DeAndre Jordan.

In between those two stalwart defenders are defensively conscious guard Austin Rivers and forwards Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari.

Together, they had formed the stingiest defense in the NBA before Thursday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, giving up a league-low 88 points per outing.

LA was ranked first in field-goal-percentage defense (40.7%) and three-point defense (25.5%).

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The sample size is only the first three games, but the Clippers nonetheless are applying pressure on their opponents.

“I think they are in tune. They want to play ‘D’, which is nice,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I think they all are on the same page. We have DJ at the basket and Pat on the ball. That’s a great combination. And Austin has been terrific defensively. I told someone the biggest surprise to me has been Gallo, just using his length.”

Beverley showed up to the Clippers with a first-team all-defense in his back pocket from last season.

He has continued to create havoc by averaging 3.33 steals per game, first in the league.

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Jordan didn’t have a blocked shot in the first three games, but the opposition knows the 6-11 center always lurks as a deterrent.

Jordan has made sure that the final step in a defensive stop of securing the rebound is complete. He leads the league in rebounds, averaging 18.3.

Portland coach Terry Stotts pointed out why the Clippers have been so tough on defense.

“Well, it starts with DeAndre Jordan,” Stotts said. “Historically, if you have a defensive-minded center, it really helps your defense. That, and they’ve got a couple of aggressive guards, but I think it starts with DeAndre.”

Even though the Clippers are playing with pace, they are still taking care of the basketball.

There was concern during the exhibition season with how careless the Clippers were with the ball.

But they lost it only 13.0 times per game in the first three games, second-lowest in the NBA.

“I think so far, and we’ve just got to keep it going offensively, we’re not trying to do too much,” Rivers said. “We’ve made the game extremely simple. If you’ve got a shot, take it. If you’ve got a drive, take it. If not, pass it and just pass it to the open guy, we’d prefer. I know that sounds simplistic, but that’s really how we’re playing.”

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broderick.turner@latimes.com

Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner


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