JORDAN ON ‘ANOTHER LEVEL’ IN GAME 5
PLAYA VISTA – DeAndre Jordan was not himself on Sunday in Oakland.
Foul trouble, the Warriors game plan and an understandable distraction kept him seemingly stuck in neutral for 25:07, his fewest minutes on the court in the series. He vowed to change that two nights later.
“He (Jordan) texted me right after we got back to L.A. and said, ‘That wasn‘t me and I will be back,’” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “I didn‘t know he meant that.”
That was the best performance of Jordan’s six-year career. He was “amazing,” according to Matt Barnes. Jordan channeled the pent up energy from Game 4 and unleashed it in Game 5. He finished with 25 points, matching a career best, 18 rebounds and four blocked shots. He had four dunks in the first quarter. He made nine foul shots, including going 3-for-4 when the Warriors resulted to intentionally fouling him.
Jordan was the most crucial player on the floor, much like he has been all series.
“That’s the only way we’re going to win,” Rivers said. “D.J. has to be there every night. He’s so important to us and that’s what I’ve been telling everyone all year. His importance to this team, the value of it, almost can’t be measured because he does so many things with athleticism, his energy, his defense. He bails us out so many times defensively from a game-plan mistake or just a great play by the other team. The fact that he has an ability to erase our mistakes, his ability to just be a one-man rebounding machine gives us extra possessions. His value to our team is unlimited.”
It is a distant cry from where Jordan was at this time a year ago, when his postseason inconsistency and foul shooting woes reduced him to a 24-minute per game player. He started all six games of last season’s first-round series loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, but it rarely felt like Jordan had much of an impact. Fast forward to Tuesday night and Jordan has been arguably the most impactful player on the floor, and that’s a group that includes 2014 All-Stars Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Stephen Curry.
He had 22 rebounds in Game 3, matching the Clippers franchise record for most in a postseason game. He’s had three double-doubles. He’s second in the NBA in rebounds per game in the postseason (13.8) behind Dwight Howard. He’s blocked at least four shots in four games. He’s one block away from Elton Brand’s franchise record of 22 for a series. Brand did it in seven games. Jordan has 21 blocks in five games.
It shouldn’t be all that much of surprise after Jordan finished the season with nearly four times as many double-doubles than his previous career best and was third in Defensive Player of the Year voting. But, according to Griffin, Tuesday night was something unseen.
“I mean he was huge,” Griffin said. “I’ve never seen him play a game like that. He was from start to finish, offensively and defensively, he was great. When he plays like that, it takes out team to another level.”‖