When the rush of reporters trickled away from DeAndre Jordan's locker, the 6-foot-11 Clippers center rubbed his hand.
He had just played one of the best games of his career, a nearly flawless 20-point performance on 10-for-12 shooting.
"My hand really hurts though, for real," he said. "I kept rubbing it on the bench and it's sore."
Jordan's hand and the rim were intimately acquainted in the Clippers' 106-84 win over the San Antonio Spurs, who entered Wednesday's game undefeated.
Jordan had six slam dunks, many of which were caught from seemingly unreal heights.
"He can catch anything four feet above the rim, no matter where it is," Blake Griffin said.
Jordan played the type of game the Clippers had hoped he would regularly perform when they signed him to a four-year, $43 million contract before the 2011-12 season.
He had 11 rebounds, four blocked shots, two steals.... and no turnovers. He was fluid and strong in the paint, using skilled footwork to get around defenders.
"This off-season was a lot different than my previous off-seasons," Jordan said. "I worked a lot on my offense this off-season and I'm comfortable with it now and my teammates trust me with the ball and that only builds my confidence even more."
Last season, Jordan struggled a bit to live up to his high expectations. He averaged 10 points and 7.4 rebounds in 25 minutes. His post game needed development and he was considered a liability in the fourth quarter because of his poor free-throw shooting.
As Chris Paul pointed out after Wednesday's game, the Clippers need Jordan at top form to be true contenders.
"He definitely is our X-factor and he knows it," Paul said.
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