Jordan Keying D-Fenders Turnaround
By Trevor Wong | @trevor_wong
In his first game as a D-Fender, center Jerome Jordan recorded 10 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots, helping L.A. capture a 107-94 victory over Idaho.
Four swats came in the first quarter alone, his presence on the defensive end of the floor setting the tone for the rest of the game. The Stampede managed just 15 points on 7 of 26 field goals in the opening 12 minutes and shot just 37.5 percent for the game.
His debut would be a small glimpse of what Jordan admitted he'd bring to the table for L.A. going forward.
"Defense, foremost" Jordan told D-Fenders.com's Eric Rothman. "Try to play a lot of defense, block shots, rebound and be a presence in the middle."
Thus far, he's made an impact on that end.
Since Jordan's arrival, the D-Fenders are 5-1, with four victories coming against playoff bound teams. In those wins, opponents are averaging just 94.2 points and shooting at a 41.4 clip, while three of those teams have failed to shoot better than 40 percent.
Part of the D-Fenders recent turnaround can be attributed to their improved play on defense. They've won seven straight at home, and have held six of those opponents under the century mark. Having a big man in the middle has played an important factor in that.
"We know we have a solid shot blocker behind us," Mike Taylor said. "Anything that gets behind us, we're confident he'll be there for a rebound or a blocked shot. He helps us out a tremendous amount on the defensive end."
More than his contributions on defense, Jordan has given Los Angeles a low-post presence. D-Fenders coach Reggie Theus noted the importance of having a 7-footer in the post and what it does for their offense.
"He has a good presence," Theus explained. "Anytime you have a guy that draws double teams (on offense), it makes you a better team. (Teams) are afraid to play him single coverage, which allows us to put shooters on the floor."
Winners of three straight games, the D-Fenders are two games under .500 at 18-20, and two-and-a-half games out of the No. 8 playoff spot. Despite more roster turnover (Malcolm Thomas played one game before being called up, Anthony Stover was placed on injury waiver and Travis Hyman acquired) in the second half of the season, the team believes they're finally turning a corner.
"When we do a good job of playing together and playing for each other, we have a good team," Lazar Hayward said. "When we have the right mentality and when we're playing for each other, we're a tough team to beat."