DeAndre Jordan

WASHINGTON – When DeAndre Jordan tipped the ball to himself for one his seven first-quarter rebounds it seemed like he might be off to a career night on the glass.

He bounded above Wizards big men Emeka Okafor and Nene and tipped the ball skyward, out-leaping both of them to seal the defensive possession for the Clippers. As it turned out, Jordan, who grabbed at least five rebounds in each of the first three quarters, set a career high with 22 boards in the L.A.’s 98-90 loss at Verizon Center.

Jordan’s effort, seven points, two blocks, a nifty assist to Grant Hill for a mid-range jumper and team season-high in rebounds, were sorely needed. Moments before tipoff, Jordan learned his frontcourt mate, Blake Griffin, was sidelined with a strained left hamstring, which meant he’d be leaned on more heavily to control the paint.

“We have so many guys that can score I didn’t feel like they needed me to score,” Jordan said. “I just wanted to limit [the Wizards] to one shot and try to get extra possessions for our team offensively and try to be as effective as possible.”

Part of his effectiveness meant staying out of foul trouble and keeping Washington’s slashing point guard John Wall from hurting the Clippers at the rim. He did both.

Stationing himself as the anchor for the Clippers’ defense, Jordan secured 19 defensive rebounds. On the play he matched his previous career-high of 20, he rejected Wall’s layup attempt along the baseline with two hands and more or less snatched the ball away.

“He was all over the glass,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “[Jordan] should be able to do that a lot and more consistent. He’s that athletic. It doesn’t surprise me. It was good to see his activity. He knew guys were down and he stepped up for us.”

Del Negro has demanded Jordan bring that same level of energy and intensity on a nightly basis. Jordan is a part of two of the Clippers’ top three lineups in terms of defensive field goal percentage, including a group of Griffin, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes and Chris Paul that in 94 minutes on the floor together has held opponents to 39.2% shooting. But for Del Negro it’s all about consistency.

After Jordan played sporadic minutes two weeks ago in Phoenix, Del Negro felt like the fifth-year center could have been reinserted late in the game. "He was pretty active, and we're looking for more consistency from him, which we've talked about,” Del Negro said.

He talked to Jordan about it prior to him helping the Clippers pull out a victory in Minnesota five days ago with 16 points and 12 rebounds, including a pair of plays on the offensive glass that led to a 3-point play from Griffin to seal the game. He played 32 minutes in Minneapolis, responding accordingly, and did so again when he played a season-high 40 minutes with Griffin absent Monday.

In the first four games of the Clippers trip, he’s had at least nine rebounds three times, following a stretch of nearly a month without a nine-rebound performance. He remains second in the league in field goal percentage at 60.3%, partly because 170 of his 188 made baskets have come from inside 5 feet, but where Jordan remains a game-changer is on the defensive end.

“[Jordan] did a great job of rebounding and playing defense,” point guard Eric Bledsoe said. “He just gave us that spark. Especially with Blake out, that’s 10 rebounds extra he ended up getting.”