In the early stages of the last few games, the Clippers have gone inside to center DeAndre Jordan and let him operate, with some success.
But one of the main reasons for going to Jordan early is that he has been the defensive anchor for the team, and Coach Vinny Del Negro thinks it is only right to keep his man happy.
"If DJ is going to cover everybody's back all the time, he needs to touch the ball a little bit," said Del Negro, whose team had won six in a row before playing the Lakers on Wednesday. "Whether it's a play set or when he's open. We obviously try to free him up as much as possible. But DJ has been a big factor in us winning the last few games, just from a standpoint of his presence defensively."
Del Negro said the Clippers need Jordan to stay out of foul trouble, rebound and help out on the weak side on defense.
They will take his scoring too, of course. Before Wednesday night's game, Jordan was averaging 7.6 points and 8.4 rebounds.
"We need him to play well," Del Negro said.
Locking in on defense
During the winning streak, the Clippers had been playing some of their best defense of the season, holding all six opponents under 100 points. They held three teams under 90 points and one under 80.
Del Negro said a big reason for the improvement has been Eric Bledsoe's putting full-court pressure on opponents. Del Negro also said 6-foot-6 Nick Young has "given us some good length and some good defense" and that the "bigs are getting a feel for each other."
The "bigs" are Jordan and forwards Blake Griffin, Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans.
"I think we've had more of a sense of urgency on our defensive coverages, in terms of controlling the paint a little bit," Del Negro said. "But time, just time staying together and working through the adversity."
Del Negro also said on days off, the Clippers have watched more film and been able to work through some defensive assignments.
Williams injury update
Del Negro said point guard Mo Williams, who has missed seven games because of a sprained left big toe, will play Saturday against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center.
Del Negro said Williams had a good workout Wednesday.
Williams' return could complicate Del Negro's rotation with Bledsoe now getting minutes.
"When Mo comes back, we'll work through that," Del Negro said. "But we have a good rhythm, a good flow to the team right now."