Chris Paul had the most clutch defensive stop of the season last night against the Golden State Warriors, and dropped 10 of the prettiest dimes he’s had all season. Blake Griffin scored 32 points on 15 of 25 shooting and held David Lee to 12 points on 6 of 15 shooting. Both of these contributions helped propel the Los Angeles Clippers to a 98-96 victory over the Golden State Warriors and grab a 2-1 series lead. While helpful, the most heroic performance came from the least offensively skilled player on the LA Clippers team.
DeAndre Jordan owned the paint last night scoring 14 points grabbing 22 rebounds and recording 5 blocks. Doc Rivers comparison to Bill a Russell might have been a stretch, but Jordan has slowly but surely become a dominant defensive force. I really felt he didn’t deserve to be the 3rd in the defensive player of the year voting, but he’s beginning to prove that he does belong in that elite class.
The Clippers guards defensively can now funnel their matchup to Jordan whose got the confidence to stop whoever is coming at him. Jordan is averaging 5 blocks per contest in this series, and last night he met Draymond Green at the mountain top and proceeded to de-posses the helpless Green in mid air.
His defensive IQ has also been heightened this season and especially when defending the pick and roll. He hedges screens with regularity and make switches with great speed to limit the amount of time mismatches occur.
Grantland’s Zach Lowe who I admire and find incredibly intelligent said Steph Curry would pick and roll the Clippers all game long. He predicted this would cause tons of problems for LAC but to everyone’s surprise DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul have been able to shut down the pick and roll. By extension they have also limited the drive and kick open threes this penetration would create. The result, the Warriors went 6 of 31 from beyond the arc last night. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson struggled considerably until late in the fourth quarter, and by that point it was to late as the Clippers held off the Warriors.
I’ve been one of Jordan’s harshest critics, I felt he was overpaid and overrated as a player. It had taken him six NBA seasons to reach this point of productivity, so thumbs up to the Clippers front office for hanging with a guy they knew they would have to develop. This is what player development should look like in the NBA, a raw player straight out of college struggles at first but constantly works to improve his game. It’s paid dividends for Jordan as he has been the Clippers X-factor thus far in the series.