As Comments Are Clarified, Jordan’s Game Speaks For Itself In Miami
MIAMI – The words didn’t say it, but the grins did.
Some fuel was added to Friday night’s matchup between the Clippers and Heat when reports came out Miami center Hassan Whiteside, in comparing his skills and job requirements with DeAndre Jordan’s, said all the Clippers’ center did was catch lobs.
Eventually, Whiteside clarified his comments and said they were misconstrued, calling Jordan one of the top centers in the league in a social media post prior to Friday’s tip-off and saying before the game all he meant was their roles are different on the offensive end. But before that occurred, Jordan responded at shootaround that morning to the initial “lob” comments.
“Made First Team All-NBA and (All-)Defense doing that,” Jordan said. “But that’s neither here nor there.”
Only, it was there.
It was there in the postgame smiles after the center known for “catching lobs” pulled down an offensive rebound with eight seconds left, then put it back to seal a 102-98 win. The Heat put smaller players on the court with the Clippers up by two points and shooting a free throw with fewer than 10 seconds left, likely needing a 3-pointer at the other end to tie.
So, Jordan took advantage when the second of Chris Paul’s free throws went off the mark.
“James (Johnson) boxed me out, did a good job of boxing me out,” Jordan said. “It just kind of fell in my hands a little bit, and I just tried to hurry up and get it up there.”
It went in, giving Jordan more points, rebounds and blocks than his Miami counterpart, with all eyes on the center matchup. Jordan finished with 12 points, 19 rebounds and his second straight game with three blocks, including one tossed all the way past half court. Whiteside finished with 11 points, 17 rebounds, two assists and a block.
“It’s the same game,” Jordan said diplomatically when asked if he had any extra motivation, before doing what he did earlier in the day at the Clippers’ shootaround, deflecting the conversation to his love for Justise Winslow, the promising Heat player Jordan’s younger brother grew up playing with.
The Clippers’ words said Whiteside’s comments didn’t add any incentive. But the subtleties and nuances as they talked suggested perhaps otherwise.
“It was huge,” Paul said of Jordan’s late rebound. “That’s what he does – rebound, get buckets… you know, make shots.”
There may have been a smirk in there, as a reporter followed up asking if Jordan’s performance was some sort of poetic justice.
“C’mon man, look at big fella – First Team All-NBA, First Team All-Defense,” Paul said. “He ain’t got to say nothing.”
And he didn’t, keeping his answers politically correct.
Head coach Doc Rivers did the same. Before the game, Rivers said everyone is entitled to their opinion and there’s nothing wrong with that, and afterward said he didn’t believe Whiteside meant what was reported.
“I think he was trying to say something else,” Rivers said. “But this day and time, we make a lot of it. This wasn’t Ali-Frazier, that’s for sure.”
But it was a close fight until the end between the Clippers and Heat, with Jordan coming out victorious and the Clippers winning their fourth straight game, now with a chance to sweep the road trip Sunday. While it got too close for comfort at the end with a 16-point leading dwindling down to one, made sure the Clippers would at least hold on Friday.
He just wouldn’t provide any bulletin board material afterward.
“That’s not what you wanted, huh?” Jordan said with a grin as he walked off.