Notebook: Jordan An All-Star, Stone’s Trip, Team’s Health
LOS ANGELES – DeAndre Jordan’s an All-Star for the first time in his career.
It’s just the latest in a handful of firsts for Jordan, who last summer was named to the All-NBA First Team for the first time ever and spent the summer with Team USA with his first experience on the U.S. Olympic team, winning a gold medal in Brazil.
Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol, Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward, Klay Thompson and Russell Westbrook were all named Western Conference reserves Thursday for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans, joining starters Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis.
With the Clippers dealing with key injuries throughout much of January, Jordan has picked up the slack, averaging 15.2 points, 16.7 rebounds and two blocks per game. For the season, he’s leading the league both in rebounds per game (14) and field goal percentage (69 percent), also averaging 12.5 points and 1.8 blocks per game.
In addition, his eight 20-plus rebound performances this season puts him atop the NBA in the category for the 2016-17 season, and his 38 20-plus rebound games for his career is the second-most among active players, behind only Dwight Howard.
Jordan will be the Clippers’ lone All-Star representative, and his teammates took to social media to congratulate their center.
Diamond Stone was recalled by the Clippers this week from the D-League, where he averaged 15.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in six games with the Salt Lake City Stars.
He felt like he played well, and more importantly, he felt like he took this past trip with a more business-like approach, after averaging 14.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in four games earlier this season with the Santa Cruz Warriors.
“I feel like I really looked at this trip as kind of how I want to approach my career,” Stone said. “I kind of looked at it, like, you meet new people, try to meet new teammates, try to get that bond with them like I have here. Once I started doing that, I feel like everything opened up for me. The players were cool, the coaches were cool. I feel like I had the same energy I have up here.”
The second-round pick posted double-doubles in three of his final four games with Salt Lake City, including a 27-point, 14-rebounds performance. Stone said it’s a challenge playing another team’s style, but he appreciated head coach Dean Cooper’s approach.
“He was really cool,” Stone said. “He pretty much just told me if I work hard, I’m going to get minutes. He doesn’t just hand minutes out, I have to earn them.”
Stone, who averaged 24.6 minutes per game, said he tried to work on his conditioning and stamina while down there. Head coach Doc Rivers said Stone will likely continue to go up and down from the D-League and NBA, but Stone hasn’t heard when or where the next stop will be.
“As far as I know, I’m up here,” Stone said.
Doc Rivers is still getting over an illness that forced him to miss the Clippers’ game Tuesday in Philadelphia, and it’s a sickness that’s lingered longer than he would’ve hoped for.
Rivers said Thursday he’s feeling “a little” better, but will continue undergoing tests.
“I was pretty sick,” Rivers said. “It’s been going on for a while. We’re running a lot of tests, doing a lot of things. I did a lot of bloodwork yesterday. I’m going to go to another doctor today just to see what’s going on.”
This break in games, with the Clippers off for three days before playing Saturday in Golden State, gives Rivers and his players more time to recover.
“We need it,” Rivers said. “It’s a good break for us. We’ve got a lot of guys banged up, a lot of guys on this team have been sick.”
Rivers said Raymond Felton was given the day off from practice Thursday to rest, as he deals with a sore shoulder and thigh bruise. Rivers joked Felton’s dealing with “a lot of football injuries.”
On a brighter note, Blake Griffin came out of his first game back feeling fine.
“I feel how we wanted and how I expected,” Griffin said. “No setbacks. No limitations.
“I would say two weeks ago I felt like I was ready to play, in terms of feeling comfortable with my knee. But then we took that time to really ramp up my workouts, ramp up everything I was doing to where I could come out and play 30-however minutes that I needed to and still feel OK. I haven’t really been thinking about my knee at all.”