DAVIS ANOTHER WEAPON IN DEFENDING HOWARD
LOS ANGELES – Entering Wednesday’s matchup with the Houston Rockets, the Clippers already held one advantage over defending All-Star center Dwight Howard that not many other teams possess: a post presence that can matchup with him in single coverage.
DeAndre Jordan, in his bid for defensive player of the year, an award Howard captured three consecutive times from 2009-11, has already proven his worth. He’s put up Howard-like numbers, seeking to become the first player since Howard in 2009-10 to lead the NBA in rebounding and field goal percentage in the same season.
Howard has taken note of what Jordan has accomplished.
“I think that he’s just playing his role,” Howard said at All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. “I think the first couple of years, he wanted to do more on the offensive end, and he would get upset when he didn’t get the ball, stuff like that. But now, he understands what they need for him to do, rebound, block shots, and dominate the paint as much as he can. And he’s been doing that. He’s been rebounding. He’s been blocking his shots. He’s been running the floor, and he’s been scoring that way.”
But Jordan is not the only option in defending the Rockets’ big man. The addition of Glen Davis, who is one of Howard’s closest friends and expected to make his team debut on Wednesday, gives the Clippers a varied look to Jordan.
Davis played one season with Howard in Orlando and was among a group of Celtics frontcourt players who helped limit Howard in two postseason matchups.
Asked how to defend Howard, Davis said you cannot allow Howard to overpower you.
“Make him be athletic, make him be skillful,” Davis said Wednesday morning at shootaround. “You make him have to think instead of just playing. You have to give him a hard time. You have to be a pest. You’ve got to hit him. You’ve got to take his hits. You’ve got to get in his mind. Just to slow him down those are the things you have to do.”
Howard is most certainly a power player. He is second in the NBA in points in the paint behind Blake Griffin and scores 92.4 percent of his points inside of 10 feet.
“Dwight’s a hell of a center, probably one of the greatest in our league, for sure,” Jordan said. “We’ve just got to be physical with him. We know he’s going to try and run the floor and get early seals. We have to meet him early and stay between him and the basket and make tough shots over our centers.”
In many ways, Jordan can do that himself. He limited Howard just 23 shots combined in their two November matchups with Howard scoring 34 total points and not securing a double-double in either game. According to Synergy Sports, Howard has received a “hard double-team” on 11.6 percent of his 709 post touches. Out of the 128 possessions that occurred in Howard’s 59 games this season, the Clippers did so just once.
Still, it’s certainly a bonus to have the option of using Davis behind Jordan.
“He already went to summer school,” Jordan said, referring to Davis having played four seasons in Doc Rivers’ defensive system previously. “So, it’s good to have that. He’s also played with Dwight so he’ll give us a lot of help tonight.”