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CLIPPERS FYI

Clippers center DeAndre Jordan's growing skills

The 6-foot-11 center is progressing, especially at rebounding and blocking shots, as Chris Kaman heals. Taking pressure off Blake Griffin would be helpful too.

January 03, 2011|By Chris Foster
  • Center DeAndre Jordan pulls down a rebound above Kings forward Francisco Garcia during a 100-99 at Sacramento.
Center DeAndre Jordan pulls down a rebound above Kings forward Francisco… (Steve Yeater / Associated…)

While Chris Kaman continues to nurse a severely sprained ankle, DeAndre Jordan continues to grow as the Clippers' center.

Some of Jordan's growing pains are growing pains to opposing teams. He has 13 blocked shots in the last two games and is averaging 2.2 per game since Kaman was injured Dec. 5.

"I see a guy driving and, as soon as he lets the ball go, I come over late," Jordan said. "All I have to do is take one step and I can be across the paint."

Call it giant baby steps.

Jordan, 22, spent one season at Texas A&M and is in his third with the Clippers. He began to receive regular playing time at the end of last season but is still catching up with his pro career.

"He's helping us, rebounding, blocking some shots, trying to control the paint," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "It takes time, especially for big guys. It's takes a little longer because there is so much involved. He hasn't quite reached the level he needs to be on offense."

The 6-foot-11 Jordan's learning became an accelerated course when Kaman was injured. In the 13 games since, Jordan has averaged 8.8 points and 8.7 rebounds.

"With the time I'm getting, everything is slowing down and things are getting easier for me," Jordan said. "My defense, rebounding, getting us the extra possession by taking chances and going to the offensive glass" are areas where he has progressed.

But where Jordan needs to continue to improve is on the offensive end, particularly in taking pressure off Blake Griffin.

"DeAndre has to find ways to duck in and be around the rim," Del Negro said. "He has to make sure his man has to guard him because they are putting a lot of double and triple teams on Blake."

Jordan has shown flashes. He was five for five from the field, scoring 14 points, in a loss to Utah last week.

Jordan prepared for this role, spending much of the past two seasons banging bodies with former Clipper Marcus Camby in practice. He also spent the summer working with former NBA coach John Lucas.

"No matter how many minutes I was going to get, 15, 25, 40, I knew I had to be ready for whatever happened," Jordan said.

Collins waived

Center Jarron Collins was waived by the Clippers on Monday in an apparent effort to cut salary. Collins was to make $854,389 this season. All NBA contracts become guaranteed on Jan. 10 for the remainder of the season.

Collins played in 19 games, averaging 0.8 points and 0.7 rebounds.

Griffin honored

Griffin was named the NBA Western Conference's rookie of the month for December. Griffin averaged 23 points and 13.5 rebounds per game.

chris.foster@latimes.com

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