LOS ANGELES-Big man. Big man. That’s one of my favorite comedic lines from the Chris Rock comedy sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris.” Well, when the Los Angeles Clippers refer to their big man they are alluding to center DeAndre Jordan, their man in the middle.
Against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center, Jordan played up to the part of big man by scoring a team-high 29 points and grabbing 16 rebounds in the Clippers’ 104-101 win on a dreary Thursday night in Los Angeles.
Life without Chris Paul for the next month or two for the Los Angeles Clippers will take some getting used to. For one night, Jordan and the Clippers seemed to have adapted pretty well in their win against the young and coming Timberwolves.
A dominating Jordan just might be the way to go for the Clippers in the next few weeks. The Clippers might not see that as an option with their top two players sidelined. Jordan has always been a dominant paint crasher and shot blocker. The one missing element from Jordan’s game up until now, has been his flow from the offensive end.
Well, against Minnesota, one might conclude that Jordan showed up and showed out. With Raymond Felton mimicking Paul on a couple of alley-oop passes for easy dunks, Jordan traded points and rebounds with Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, who didn’t do bad himself as he dropped in 37 points and pulled down 12 boards.
If the term “big man” was applicable, this was the right game for that to be appropriated.
Playing the first game without Paul, the Clippers struggled a bit out of the gait as their offense hit a couple of snags in the first and last quarter. Amazingly, the Clippers only outscored the Timberwolves in just one of the four quarters played, and that was the pivotal second quarter in which Los Angeles outscored Minnesota, 29-19.
But by midway in the third period, the rout was on. That’s what the Clippers thought. However, if one were to just look through the lens of what life will truly be like for the Clippers, there are questions of ball fluidity and getting more production out of the small forward position.
While they scored 50 points in the last two quarters, the Clippers saw Minnesota outscore them by 10 points to make the game close.
Unfortunately, the Clippers have watched this movie play out before, most noticeably in last year’s Round 2 playoff series loss to the Portland Trailblazers. We know the story about that where both Paul and Blake Griffin went down to injuries, curbing the Clippers’ postseason run. Griffin is out of the lineup. Paul now has joined him.
That leaves coach Doc Rivers scrambling again for a lineup that won’t have a problem putting points on the scoreboard and one that can play tight enough defense to secure some victories with their floor general out. That wasn’t too much of an issue against Minnesota, except in their fourth quarter when the Clippers scored just 22 points, allowing Minnesota to climb back into the contest.