Jordan Sets Clippers’ Blocks Record; Rivers With Strong Homecoming
ORLANDO – An hour after Wednesday night’s game against the Magic, DeAndre Jordan still had a basketball in his hands.
It was the game ball, one head coach Doc Rivers gave him after becoming the Clippers’ all-time blocks leader with his third block of the game, passing Benoit Benjamin for the top spot in the franchise’s history with his 1,118th career block.
“It’s awesome, man,” Jordan said. “It’s real humbling just to be able to do something special like that with a team that drafted (me) when I was 19 years old. I think that’s awesome. I only want to build off it and continue to get better. Stuff like that helps us win games.”
It certainly did Wednesday.
Jordan, who finished the night with 22 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and two assists, set the team’s block record by swatting Aaron Gordon’s 3-point attempt with 23 seconds left, with the Clippers nursing a five-point lead.
While Evan Fournier hit a two-point basket shortly after, that block ensured the Clippers stayed up by three points. That was crucial, as the Clippers went 1-of-2 at the free-throw line on their next trip, which still allowed them to hold onto a two-possession advantage in an eventual 113-108 win.
Jordan, who’s averaging 1.8 blocks per game this year and has averaged at least 1.4 blocks per game each of the last seven seasons including this year, is now the Clippers’ all-time leader in both blocks and rebounds.
He was proud to receive Wednesday’s game ball to commemorate the former honor.
“That was pretty cool,” Jordan said. “My teammates were really proud of me. I’ve just got to continue to build on that.”
Hometown Kid Goes Off
The Clippers’ Orlando connections run deep.
Of course, former Clippers Jeff Green and C.J. Wilcox now play for the Magic. On the Clippers’ side, Orlando drafted J.J. Redick, who played his first six-plus years with the Magic and said he still pays attention to what the team is doing.
Then, there’s Marreese Speights, who’s from St. Petersburg, roughly a two-hour drive from Orlando. Speights said most of his family always makes the trip when he plays in Orlando, sometimes bringing as many as 95 to 100 people to that game, though this time around that numbers was closer to the 30s.
“It’s fun playing here,” said Speights, whose mother made the trip and is also hoping to see family when the Clippers play Friday in Miami. “It’s cool, especially because it just feels like home when I come back.”
Then there’s Austin Rivers, who grew up closer to Orlando than anyone on the Clippers’ roster, in nearby Winter Park. And he made his return home count.
On Tuesday night, the Clippers came out to see Rivers get his jersey retired at his high school.
“It was a cool time just to see my jersey go up in front of all my family, all my friends now and friends that I’ve had since I was 6, 7 years old,” Rivers said. “It was pretty cool. Definitely a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life, for sure.”
But many weren’t sure he’d even be able to play back home Wednesday, after sustaining a concussion that held him out of Monday’s game.
But Rivers passed all the tests, then lit it up against the Magic with a team-high and season-high 25 points, matching a career high with seven made 3-pointers while going an efficient 9-for-12 from the floor, earning the start for the injured Luc Mbah a Moute (AC joint).
“Austin’s coming off the retirement high,” Jordan joked. “He was killing it, huh? The whole Winter Park here tonight… For him to come out tonight and just put on a show like that in front of the outskirts of his hometown was pretty cool to see.”
Rivers is now 13-for-20 from long distance in the last three games he’s played, with the highlight of those coming Wednesday in Orlando. At one point in that game, Rivers came back down the court after a late 3-pointer and slapped hands with one of the roughly 20 people he brought to watch.
“It’s good to have a good game anywhere,” Rivers said. “But I would be lying to you if I said it isn’t a little bit more fun to do it here, for sure.”