PORTLAND, Ore. — In the last two games, DeAndre Jordan has nine blocked shots.
Jordan blocked at least one shot in the Clippers' first five games.
That's the defensive force the Clippers want Jordan to be.
"He has to do a good job controlling the paint for us, and that's part of it," Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We've seen how athletic he is. He's still learning and he's still kind of finding his way a little bit. But that helps us to be more consistent."
Entering Thursday night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Jordan was averaging 2.8 blocked shots, fourth-best in the NBA.
Del Negro said the team believes that the 6-foot-11, 265-pound Jordan is athletic enough to be an intimidating factor every game.
"It's not only blocking shots, but altering shots and being in the right spots and talking and all the things that veteran players do to make the game easier," Del Negro said. "He's trying to work through those things."
Barnes as defender
One night, Matt Barnes comes off the bench and has to defend Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.
On another night, Barnes might be matched up against Memphis small forward Rudy Gay or San Antonio sixth man Manu Ginobili.
Barnes has accepted his role to play defense first and foremost for the Clippers.
"My thing is to stay into the players," Barnes said. "You can make them uncomfortable with pressure. Like Kobe. I try to guard him well and make him earn his shots, make him take a lot of tough shots. Great offense is always better than great defense. So you want to make them work hard and not allow them to get anything easy."
On Thursday night against the Trail Blazers, Barnes was matched up against Nicolas Batum.
Next Wednesday, when the Clippers host the NBA champion Miami Heat, Barnes probably will spend time defending LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, two of the NBA's best wing players.
But no matter who it is, Barnes said, he'll be up to the task.
"That's something I always look forward to, is guarding the best player," Barnes said. "Whether it's the point guard or if I can handle a power forward that's a shooting power forward, that's what I go into every night looking forward to doing."