Clippers center DeAndre Jordan goes for the block against Blazers power… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
For most people, Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro was told, it has been easy to forget that DeAndre Jordan is basically a first-year starter in the NBA.
"Sure, you guys forget all the time," Del Negro joked. "I don't forget."
Indeed, Jordan had started just 91 games in his first three years in the NBA, 66 last season, so Del Negro sees this as a learning process for his 23-year-old center.
Jordan has started all 51 games for the Clippers this season.
"He's never been in that situation," Del Negro said.
Del Negro said Jordan has improved his play a lot in recent games because he is watching more film, going through the game plan more and getting in extra work.
"DeAndre knows how important he is," Del Negro said. "When he's out there, his energy is contagious and his athleticism is shown. We have to do a good job trying to get him the ball for some easy ones, and he has to do a good job with his energy and taking control of our defense."
Jordan, who started Friday night against Portland despite a sore right ankle, is the last line of defense for the Clippers.
He is averaging 2.12 blocked shots per game, fourth best in the NBA.
"He's a vital part, especially on the defensive end for us," Del Negro said.
Del Negro said Jordan is an "emotional kid" who continues to grow as a player.
"He wants to win like everybody," Del Negro said. "But wanting to win and learning how to win and how you make your adjustments and learning on the fly sometimes is another thing. He's working hard."
Clippers forward Reggie Evans was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Friday for an obscene gesture he made during Wednesday night's game against New Orleans at Staples Center.
Evans, who said he will appeal the fine, maintained that he didn't make a gesture at a fan. Evans said he had scored and was fouled on a play when Jordan and Blake Griffin joked about his play. Evans said he was gesturing toward his teammates.
"Yeah, I was really shocked," Evans said about the fine.
Players can't miss the standings
In case any of the Clippers forget where they stand in the Western Conference, all they have to do is look at the grease board at the practice site or inside the locker room at Staples Center to see the standings.
They were fourth in the West before Friday night's game.
"I think everybody knows what's going on," Del Negro said. "They are up there for a reason. Really, we just can control what we can control. We know where we're at."