JORDAN GETTING COMFORTABLE AND CONFIDENT
After stringing together arguably two of the most productive and active games of his career, Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is feeling more comfortable and confident than ever.
And why not? He topped 20 points in consecutive games for the first time, nabbed his first 20-point, 10-rebound double-double, and made 18 field goals in two straight games for the first time.
“I’m comfortable down there with the basketball,” Jordan said after Saturday’s practice. “When your teammates trust you to make the right play, your confidence is building as every game goes on. The more and more you touch the ball in the post and get game reps, you just get comfortable and confident and I think that’s a big part of the game.”
Against the Spurs Wednesday, Jordan had 20 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks and he followed that up with a 21-point, eight-rebound effort a night later against Portland. In two games, he’s 18-for-22 from the field.
“I think he’s just being a little bit more patient,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “He’s getting better post position. It starts with his activity on the defensive end, running the court, getting some easy ones. Obviously, he’s very athletic so we can throw the ball up to him a lot, so he’s just kind of picking his spots and showing good patience on the offensive end.”
Jordan’s new-found post-up ability adds another dimension to the Clippers offense. And if it continues, could free up All-Star Blake Griffin for more single coverage opportunities on the opposite block.
“The more pressure we put on [opponents] offensively from different positions on the floor, the tougher it is to load up on one or two particular guys,” Griffin said. “[Jordan’s] success early has been great. We just want to keep giving it to him and keep giving him that confidence and he’s going to be tough to stop.”
Much of Jordan’s early showing is due to the work he put in during the summer in his hometown of Houston and then later with teammates and coaches at the Clippers’ training facility in Playa Vista. According to Del Negro, Jordan and Griffin both have the kind of work ethic that should lead to even more improvement from the young duo.
“The exciting thing is there’s a lot of improvement for Blake, a lot of improvement for [Jordan],” Del Negro said. “They’re young players and that’s the exciting part because they’re going to continually work and get better.”
LIGHTER SCHEDULE OVER NEXT WEEK
Following their 13-point win in Portland, the Clippers were the only team in the league with six games played. However, their busy first week is slowing down over the next 10 days.
The team was off Friday and practiced Saturday with a 12:30 tipoff schedule for Sunday against Atlanta. From there, they have just two games from Nov. 12-17, both home tilts against Miami and Chicago.
“You’re always balancing [the schedule] with making sure you take advantage of healing some guys up and also getting some good work in,” Del Negro said. “We have a difficult week even though we have some time. First, with Atlanta tomorrow, they’re playing pretty well and they’re deep and have a good front line. And then Miami and Chicago. I mean, there are no easy games in this league.”
The Clippers learned that lesson the hard way, dropping consecutive home games to the undermanned Warriors and a young Cavaliers team.
“We have a better mindset than we did at the start of the season,” said Griffin, who is averaging 15.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists in six games. “I think we came in really didn’t do what we needed to do right away against Golden State and the Cavs. I think now we realize we can’t take any of these teams for granted. I mean, Atlanta’s coming in here and we’ve had some good wins, so we really need to be on our game early.”
GRANT HILL UPDATE
Veteran forward Grant Hill is one of the players Del Negro was referencing when he talked about using the schedule to help guys get healthy.
Due to a bone bruise in his right knee, Hill has not taken part in full-contact activity since the team’s third preseason game in Shanghai on October 14. Del Negro said Saturday that Hill had another MRI on the knee the day before, adding that the test revealed “nothing worse.”
“He’s improving a little bit,” Del Negro added. “He’s getting to do a few more things from a conditioning standpoint which is good. He’s monitored every day and he’s feeling better, which he should because he’s had some time off.”