Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan grabs spotlight at crucial time
Warriors power forward Draymond Green continues to try to get under the skin of the Clippers, including taking a shot at Blake Griffin on Monday.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
OAKLAND — Golden State’s shots kept bouncing off the rim.
Some nicked the front, others clanged off the side and still others caromed high off the back.
It only seemed as though DeAndre Jordan was there to grab every rebound.
The Clippers center repeatedly extended his massive hands to seize the ball, doing it for the final time with 1.2 seconds left Thursday night at Oracle Arena when he grasped Stephen Curry’s airballed three-pointer, flung a pass to teammate Chris Paul and raised his arm in triumph.
Jordan’s franchise playoff-record-tying 22 rebounds helped the Clippers snatch control of their first-round series against the Warriors with a 98-96 victory in Game 3.
Jordan added 14 points and five blocks, his all-around effort helping the Clippers take a 2-1 lead in the series. He played smothering defense and provided an offensive jolt to complement teammate Blake Griffin’s 32 points in addition to hoarding all those rebounds.
Jordan’s rebound total tied Bob McAdoo’s playoff franchise record. Jordan had 15 of his rebounds on the defensive end on a night the Warriors made only six of 31 three-pointers and shot only 41.6% overall.
“I feel like it’s all our defense,” Jordan said when asked to explain his rebounding prowess. “We do a great job initially guarding the ball.”
His offense didn’t hurt either. As the Clippers amassed an 18-point lead in the third quarter, Jordan had a dunk putback and followed a rare missed jumper by Griffin with a putback layup. He was even passable at the free-throw line, making four of nine attempts.
Jordan’s impact extended well beyond the numbers.
He offered encouragement to Griffin, extending his hand for Griffin to slap after Griffin missed a free throw in the third quarter. He later motioned to teammate Matt Barnes to keep his cool after Barnes committed a needless foul in the backcourt.
For a player who finished third in voting for NBA defensive player of the year and fifth in voting for most improved in the league, there was no one the Clippers would rather have had manning the middle.
“He covers up for us so many times,” Paul said. “When guys get by us he’s there for us.”
Jordan picked up his fourth block when he rejected Harrison Barnes on a driving layup after the Warriors had built considerable momentum in their third-quarter comeback.
His fifth block was even bigger. With the Warriors down by only three points and less than four minutes to play, Jordan met David Lee near the rim and swatted his layup. The Clippers scored the next five points.
“Just his presence alone down there was huge,” Griffin said. “When he’s playing defense like that, he’s the anchor of our defense. When you see a guy like that busting himself the whole game, everybody else falls in line.”
And the ball tends to bound off the rim and into the right hands for the Clippers over and over.
Jordan’s 13 rebounds in the first half were a franchise record for a half. He also had 10 points by halftime and would have had more had there not been one maddening sequence midway through the first quarter in which he missed a tip-in off an errant J.J. Redick three-point shot, grabbed the rebound and missed a layup.
It’s the kind of production the Clippers have come to expect from someone who led the league in rebounds (13.6 per game) and field-goal percentage (.676) during the regular season while finishing third in blocked shots (2.5).
Jordan was everywhere his team needed him in its biggest game of the season.
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