Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan is embracing role of defensive leader

DeAndre Jordan reacts after dunking the ball against the Washington Wizards on Saturday night. Jordan has spearheaded the Clippers' defensive effort this season.
(Rob Carr / Getty Images)

The Clippers’ biggest “kid” is meant to be seen and heard.

Otherwise, DeAndre Jordan isn’t doing all he can to be the defensive menace his team needs.

The 6-foot-11, 265-pound center continued to be active on both fronts Wednesday, saving sluggish teammates from a potential letdown against the New Orleans Pelicans.

“We had to push through, and I think D.J., his energy, he just kept telling us, ‘Come on, come on, fellas,’ and we fed off it,” Clippers guard Chris Paul, who struggled through an off shooting night, said after his team’s 108-95 victory. “I love what D.J.'s doing. He’s the corner of our defense.”


Jordan’s five blocks were just one highlight of a stat line that also included 14 points and 20 rebounds. Those types of numbers have become almost nightly occurrences during a season in which Jordan is averaging career highs in points (9.9 per game), rebounds (13.0), blocks (2.2) and field-goal percentage (.648).

But much of what Jordan does can’t be quantified through numbers. He alters shots, sets hard picks and constantly communicates with his teammates about what they need to be doing as the de facto point guard of the defense.

“Part of my job is to be energetic and kind of be a spark for us,” Jordan said, “especially on the defensive end.”

The Clippers said before the season that they wanted to be a defensive team, and now they’re finally becoming men of their words.

As recently as Nov. 23, the Clippers were yielding 105.1 points per game, third most in the NBA. But after giving up triple digits in 11 of their first 14 games, the Clippers have allowed opponents to reach that threshold in only three of 13 games.

Much of it can be attributed to the long arms, bouncy legs and loose lips of a player who has embraced his coach’s challenge to become one of the league’s best defenders.

“I think he’s just grown; it’s not me,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. “I don’t want to take any of his credit. I mean, that’s D.J. D.J. had to decide on his own. I could ask him, but he had to embrace it and when you look at our team and all the other weapons on the team, he had to look at where would he make his biggest impact, and his biggest impact is doing all the other stuff” besides scoring.

Breaking it up

Allen Iverson would have loved playing for this team.

The Clippers canceled another practice Thursday, which has become a routine occurrence under Rivers. The team also did not practice Tuesday and is scheduled to take Sunday off as well.

“I think Doc thinks we’re all like 40 years old, which is fine with me,” Jordan said Wednesday night. “He’s big on rest, but when we do practice — not saying we never practice — we definitely go hard.”

Rivers had planned to hold consecutive practices Thursday and Friday before changing his mind.

“I originally had scheduled to practice both days, and that would just be dumb,” Rivers said. “So we’re going to have [Thursday] off. We need a practice, I’m telling you that. So we get to have a practice and then we have a back-to-back. So it just never stops.”

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