It was the start of an impressive afternoon for Jordan, who in 25 minutes finished with 16 points, a season-high 16 rebounds (five offensive), two blocks, and an immeasurable number of jolts of energy to the Staples Center crowd.
Twenty five minutes never seemed so complete.
Jordan topped his season average in rebounds (8.1) in the first quarter with nine. His monster quarter included 10 points, 2 of 4 free throws, a block, and several instances where a Raptors player drove into the lane and either changed his shot or passed one up.
“I thought DeAndre really came out with a great mindset,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “He had a 16 and 16 [points and rebounds], blocking shots. I thought he was very active on both ends.”
It was perhaps the most impactful stretch of Jordan’s four-year career. He protected the rim, was an efficient presence on the offensive end, and with a Reggie Evans-esqe rate of return, he rebounded nearly everything in sight. The Clippers had 26 total rebounds at halftime, Jordan snared half of them.
He did it in myriad ways, sometimes with one arm, sometimes by leaping over a crowd, and on one offensive board he simply ripped the ball away from Raptors forward Ed Davis and powered it home for a right-handed dunk.
Six minutes later, he collected an offensive rebound off a missed dunk by Blake Griffin, took one dribble and immediately went up for a jump hook with his right hand. It was the most definitive evidence of the work Jordan put in during the offseason with former Spurs, Sixers, and Cavaliers coach John Lucas in his hometown of Houston.
After halftime, Jordan’s personal highlight reel continued as 44 seconds into the third quarter Billups found him with a lob that Jordan caught with his back to the basket and threw down over his head.
Later, he followed a Ryan Gomes miss with a two-handed dunk. Of his five offensive rebounds on the day, four resulted in putbacks.
“You know you can always put it up by the goal and he’s going to finish,” Griffin said. “But you know tonight offensive rebounds were huge for him; you know, those put backs. He was just productive early and it kept going.”
It’s not just the numbers or the way Jordan can instantly ignite the crowd with his assaults at the rim, he brings that same energy when he’s on the Clippers bench. Rookies Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins usually sit next to him and the trio often jumps up in towel-waving unison. After Mo Williams dribbled three times back and forth between his legs to knock down a jumper, Jordan looked at Thompkins and mimicked the moves. And when the rookies entered the game in the final minutes, Jordan and Griffin were the first off their seat.
“From the moment we [Thompkins and Leslie] met DJ we got along,” Thompkins said. “It means a lot for a starter to sort of take us under his wing so quickly.”
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