RIVERS ON JORDAN: ‘HE HAD A BILL RUSSELL NIGHT’
SACRAMENTO – Clippers head coach Doc Rivers spent too many seasons in Boston to not choose his words carefully.
After the Clippers defeated the Kings, 104-98, in overtime Friday, Rivers was praising his team’s defensive effort. Unprovoked, Rivers, who has not shied away from heaping motivational words on DeAndre Jordan, compared the Clippers’ young center to his idol.
“D.J. had a Bill Russell night,” Rivers said. “He really did. It’s amazing what a defender can do for your team who just buys in. And D.J. buys in 100 percent. I thought without him, we had no chance tonight. He was phenomenal.”
Jordan was a blocked shot away from his first career triple-double. He had 15 rebounds, the sixth time this season he’s grabbed at least that many. He converted a put-back layup in overtime to tie the game and he threw down a requisite dunk or two. But Jordan’s game was predicated on defense.
He battled with DeMarcus Cousins. He helped on driving players from the wing. He rebounded in traffic. He was the anchor that his teammates and coaches have sought.
“D.J. was amazing,” Chris Paul said. “I think his defense was great. We had a chance to stay home and let him guard big fella (Cousins).”
Remarkably, Jordan only committed one foul, despite swatting away nine shots.
“I had a foul, damn it,” Jordan joked, smiling at the reporter who pointed it out.
But when told about Rivers’ comparison Jordan seemed almost bashful. For him, hearing Rivers, a coach he deeply respects, draw a comparison, if only for one game, to arguably the best defensive player in NBA history, meant a lot.
“It’s definitely something I’m going to try and build on,” Jordan said. “It’s a humbling thing to hear from a coach like that as well. I can only get better and learn from this game and try to play like this consistently throughout the season.”