Although it was just the first game of preseason, it only took minutes into the first quarter to see that Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan has answered two of the most redundant questions of the offseason.
Will Jordan improve? And will he buy into head coach Doc Rivers‘ defensive expectations?
Jordan was leading the Clippers in points, rebounds and blocked shots with three minutes left in the first quarter. The Clippers controlled both the offense and defense with Jordan on the court, erasing high-percentage looks at the basket and beating shooters in a foot race to the other end of the floor.
But as he sat, the activity of the Clippers stalled, allowing the Portland Trail Blazers back into the game and gave point guard Damien Lillard the opportunity to remind the NBA why he was the 2012-13 unanimous Rookie of the Year. Jordan’s absence gave the Blazers room to exhale on offense without the fear of their shots being snatched out of the air as if the attempt was mere fantasy.
The Blazers were up by one point halfway through the second quarter, begging the referees to swallow their whistles with Jordan at the scorer’s table waiting to reenter the game. But, the inevitable happened — Clippers backup point guard Darren Collison was fouled, and the 7-foot track star was back to author the sequel to his first-quarter memoir.
Jordan was the best player on the floor for the first time since being a member of the Clippers. That’s near impossible with “Mini Magic” Chris Paul leading the charge. The Clippers have many new faces, including a new coach. Yet Jordan’s 14 points, six rebounds, four blocks and two steals in the first half was the best housewarming gift they could have asked for.
ChristopherBrown is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @whatrockschris. Like him on Facebook.