NBA @ 2: DeAndre Jordan’s Goal – D.P.O.Y.
The Los Angeles Clippers started the 2011/12 NBA Season with a Christmas Sunday victory over the Golden State Warriors.
Over the years, the Clippers have been a team that would often compete for about 43 minutes before losing games in the final five.
Against the Warriors, LA was the team doing the closing – outscoring Golden State 30-18 to turn a contested battle into a 19-point Clipper victory.
According to Chris Paul (via Twitter), who scored six-straight points in a key fourth quarter stretch to ice the Warriors, center DeAndre Jordan was deserving of the game ball “4 his defense!”
Jordan was retained this summer by the Clippers for $43 million over four years after initially signing an offer sheet with the same Warriors squad he was about to terrorize on Christmas with a total of eight blocked shots.
It got so bad for Golden State that Coach Mark Jackson chose to exploit Jordan’s most glaring weakness . . . free throw shooting.
Teammate Blake Griffin believes Jordan is growing into one of the best defensive players in the league.
“I strongly believe DeAndre could be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year,” said Griffin. “He’s our anchor defensively. We rely on him a lot.”
While the Clippers made dramatic moves this offseason including the Paul deal that the team’s media guide calls “the biggest trade in franchise history,” none of the pieces would necessarily be considered “defensive stoppers.”
LAC has no Shane Battier, Metta World Peace or Tony Allen type ball hawks.
Instead, the Clippers need to play team defense and rely on Jordan to protect the basket.
DeAndre has made the Defensive Player of the Year award one of his goals.
“That’s definitely something I’m pushing for in my career,” said Jordan. “Not just one time – multiple times.”
The Clipper center is still developing with just three years in the league. At 6’11″, 265 pounds, Jordan is surprisingly mobile.
While he need to up his rebounding numbers and avoid foul trouble, he’s made clear strides each year in the league, especially last season when an injury to starter Chris Kaman gave DJ his first true opportunity to start and play sizable minutes.
Now Kaman is in New Orleans, as part of the package for Paul, and Jordan is averaging eight blocks a game.
While he can’t keep up that pace over the next 65, Jordan has embraced the notion that he’s the last line of defense at the basket.
“I’m the leader of the defense here,” said DJ. “I’m definitely going to continue to work on that side of the floor and help our team win.”
Given that Jordan is the team’s only true center, the Clippers are certainly relying on him to be a major presence.
Recently signed reserve Reggie Evans, undersized even at forward, will be out another week or so with an ankle injury. Evans is a dominant rebounder but doesn’t necessarily have the size to be a stopper (never mind Chuck Hayes is even smaller).
The Clippers are open to adding height if the right player became available but for now it’s just DeAndre.
LA is well aware that their offensive fire power will only take them so far.
“Defensively if we’re on our game, we’re on our rotations and everybody is doing the right thing, it’s tough,” said Griffin. “When we’re not, it just puts us in a bind.”
The Clippers don’t play again until Wednesday when they visit the San Antonio Spurs.
Knicks Claim a Point Guard
The New York Knicks picked up Jeremy Lin off waivers on Tuesday.
Lin is a 6’3″, 200-point guard and second-year player who played in 29 games last year for the Golden State Warriors.
Jeremy never established much of a role in Oakland, averaging just under 10 minutes a game, shooting 38.9% from the field with 1.4 assists nightly.
While he clearly needs to work on his shot, Lin has good court-vision and a strong overall understanding of the game.
Initially he’ll get the chance to play in New York with Mike Bibby, Baron Davis and Iman Shumpert all felled with injury. Lin will back up starter Toney Douglas in the point-guard friendly system of Coach Mike D’Antoni.
Lin, a Harvard graduate, was a fan favorite with the Warriors. He became a salary cap casualty when the team looked to maximize their space to make the sizable offer to DeAndre Jordan.
The Rockets claimed him off of waivers but needed a roster spot to sign center Sam Dalembert.
Lin’s contract is non-guaranteed. New York will have until February 10th to make a decision on Lin for the rest of the year.
McRoberts Likes Being the Hustle Guy
After the Los Angeles Lakers sent Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks for future considerations, they signed forward Josh McRoberts to fill the void left by last year’s Sixth Man of the Year.
Now two games into the season, McRoberts has been asked to start on back-to-back nights alongside Pau Gasol as Andrew Bynum sits out the first four because of suspension (J.J. Barea, NBA Finals, etc.).
The Lakers, as a team, are in slight disarray as they work to integrate five new players into a brand new system headed by a new head coach (Mike Brown) who has very different philosophies both offensively and defensively than his predecessor Phil Jackson.
With no Bynum, a limited time together in training camp to cover more ground than most returning teams, and three games in three nights, the Lakers may struggle a bit until they get that first win locked in.
LA should have been able to close out against the Chicago Bulls but missed free throws and turnovers in the final couple of minutes led to a substantial collapse.
Flying up to Sacramento after the game to play the following night against a younger, excited Kings squad proved too much as well with a nine-point defeat (100-91).
To make matters worse, McRoberts is dealing with a sprained thumb and big toe (both on the left side).
The Lakers host the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night and need Josh to be a contributor.
“Just be solid, defend, rebound – bring the energy that he does bring,” said Coach Brown of McRoberts. “That’s how he’s going to make his money in the league. If can play within himself and bring that juice, then he’s done his job.”
Against the Kings, McRoberts managed just two points but also collected five boards and three assists before sitting late with the toe injury.
In the opener against the Bulls, Josh blocked two shots and pulled down eight boards.
“McRoberts is a skilled, energy, hustle-type player,” said Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau. “A very good player.”
It’s surprising that Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak went after McRoberts, given Kupchak’s North Carolina roots.
“I was only there a couple of years,” said McRoberts of Tar Heels’ rivals Duke. “I’m not full-blooded, so that helped my cause.”
When Bynum returns, Gasol will slide back down to the four and McRoberts will play in a more limited role off the bench.
He welcomes the regular rotation.
In Indiana, initially under Coach Jim O’Brien’s reign, McRoberts found his role would fluctuate game by game.
“That was part of Coach O’Brien’s system,” said Josh. “Once Coach [Frank] Vogel took over he put in a depth chart where you kind of knew where you stood. I started for a little while then started to come off the bench, which I actually liked because I knew where to be mentally. It’s tough when some nights I’d play 30 minutes [under O'Brien] and the next night I’d be inactive. Kind of like roulette.”
As far as with the Lakers, McRoberts is happy to fill in where is needed.
“I’ll do whatever is asked of me, whatever is necessary,” said the Laker forward. “I think for me I’ll be a hustle guy, an energy guy, bring a lot of enthusiasm off the bench and try to go after every rebound.”
It’s going to take some time for the Lakers to pull it together. Given the shorter schedule, there’s even less margin for error.
Lob City? Not Always . . .
When DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin first learned of the Chris Paul trade, they celebrated what they called “Lob City.”
While it’s certain two of the league’s most prolific dunkers will be converting lob passes on a regular basis, Paul wanted to downplay expectations.
To Chris, it’s not about style but winning.
“There are going to more games than not where there are no lobs, so be prepared,” Paul cautioned.
Chris had nine assists in his Clipper debut, not one connected with DeAndre for a dunk.
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