Clippers center DeAndre Jordan entered Thursday’s game against the Lakers leading the league in rebounds per game (14) and field goal percentage (66.1).
If he finishes the season leading those categories, he’d be only the third player in NBA history to do it. Wilt Chamberlain did it eight times and Dwight Howard matched the feat in the 2009-10 season.
Jordan has continually given credit to Coach Doc Rivers, who not only challenged Jordan to become the defensive captain, he fulfilled his promise of keeping Jordan in the game during the fourth quarter despite his troubles at the free throw line.
While Rivers has been one inspiration, at least one of his teammates has pushed Jordan to punch up his game.
“I think it’s amazing,” forward Matt Barnes said of the year Jordan is having. “DeAndre being a close friend of mine ever since last year, I just told him ‘Start modeling your game like (Mike) Tyson. You’re more athletic, you can control the game more than he can. Model your game like him and you’re going to be all right.’
“He’s gone above and beyond the call of that and his numbers speak for themselves. He’s an anchor of our defense and it’s huge having him on the court in the fourth quarter, knocking down free throws now, but definitely protecting the paint.”
Danny Granger was dealt from Indiana to Philadelphia just before the trading deadline, then worked a buyout deal with the 76ers so he could find his way to a contender.
That meant Clippers coach Doc Rivers could continue in his ways of recruiting, and the coach gave a tongue-in-cheek description of his tactics.
“It’s very similar to back in the days where you could just give college players money,” Rivers said, trying to keep a straight face. “I think that was far more effective. I think I would have gone to several different schools if people could have recruited me that way.”
His true recruiting secret?
“You beg,” River said.
He was begging from a position of strength based on the talents of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
“I just remember how hard it is to defend (Griffin’s) screen and rolls, him jumping all over the place and all over people’s heads. It was very hard to defend,” Granger said. “To play with a guy like that is special and you’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity.
“I called David West (a teammate of Paul in New Orleans) before I even signed and I asked about Chris. He said he’s the most competitive guy he’s ever played with, he said if you do choose to play in Los Angeles you’ll love playing with Chris. He’ll do whatever it takes to win. He’s one of the greatest players he’s played with.”
Danny Granger has had a second home in Los Angeles for seven years and has spent the summer months working out at the Clippers training facility.
On his first day as a Clipper, he got lost.
“I got lost walking in here, I couldn’t find the players’ entrance,” Granger said with a smile. “I must have been here a thousand times playing throughout the years and I still couldn’t find the players’ entrance to drive in.
“I drove around Staples (Center) like five times.”
Then in another twist, Granger, expected to be in uniform Saturday night after signing with the Clippers on Friday, was mysteriously left off the active list coaches must produce before each game.
While all of those procedural steps figure to work themselves out, Granger and the Clippers are looking forward to what the former all-star can deliver as his personal comeback from a knee injury continues.
Granger had to be won over by Coach Doc Rivers, who was battling several other teams, including San Antonio and Miami, for his services.
“Doc is a laid-back coach. That’s really kind of a breath of fresh air in the NBA,” Granger said. “A lot of coaches are sticklers about a lot of things. His laid-back nature is very appealing.
“His style of offense — they will run you to death, they get off a lot of shots, alley oops. It’s a fun way to play. That’s always a treat especially for an offensive minded player like myself.”
The 6-foot-9 forward will be a reserve for the time being but as het becomes acclimated, he could find himself in the starting lineup by the end of the season.
That would bolster the Clippers’ bench with Matt Barnes returning to a reserve role alongside Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison, who have been pressed into starting roles by injuries.
“I have to wait and see if Danny fits with us,” Rivers said. “Ideally, yes because of his length and it would allow Matt to come off and do what he does with his energy. But Matt’s doing well right now. It will all figure itself out.”
Another game, another new player for the Clippers.
Danny Granger, once the cornerstone of the blossoming Indiana Pacers, cleared waivers Friday and signed with the Clippers, adding even more depth to a team that remains serious about building a championship contender.
His recent seasons plagued by tendinitis, Granger was traded from the Pacers to Philadelphia just before the trade deadline. He worked a buyout from the 76ers to earn his freedom, then chose the Clippers over such suitors as Miami, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas.
The 6-foot-9 Granger, who averaged 25.8 points in 2008-09 and 24.1 the next season, arrives just in time for the injury-stricken Clippers. They still don’t know when J.J. Redick will return from the bulging disc in his lower back and his replacement, Jamal Crawford, is dealing with a calf strain.
The tendinitis in his right knee caused him to miss 77 games last season and was coming off the bench this season for Indiana, which is poised to challenge Miami for Eastern Conference supremacy.
“I definitely have gotten healthy,” Granger told the team’s Web site. “Now it was just a matter of getting my game back and getting my feel and I was on track. I’m still feeling good. So, I still feel like I have a lot to offer and I like the way I’m going.”
Granger had played in 29 games this season for the Pacers and averaged 8.3 points. In 2010-11, his last real full season with Indiana, he averaged 20.5 points. Two years ago, he averaged 17 points per game in 11 playoff games.
Earlier this week, the Clippers signed forward Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who had been waived by Orlando. Davis made his Clippers debut in Wednesday’s win over Houston.
“It changes the team,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. “But we just try to do a good job of meshing them in and getting them in the mix as fast as possible.”
Granger said the lure of playing for Coach Doc Rivers and alongside Chris Paul was a tipping point in his choosing the player for the Clippers.
“I’m very familiar with the way Doc coaches,” Granger said. “And I think you always have a desire to play with a point guard the caliber of Chris Paul. And I think in the West it’s a really tight race out here and I just thought I would be able to help this team the most.”
Granger will wear jersey No. 33 and will be available to make his debut Saturday night at Staples Center when the Clippers take on New Orleans.
The Danny Granger chase is on and the Clippers are in the thick of it.
Granger, traded from Indiana to Philadelphia, had his contract bought out by the 76ers on Wednesday and is now free to sign.
“Of course,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers answered when asked if the Clippers are interested. Then again, so are other teams like the San Antonio Spurs, it was reported, as well as Houston, Dallas and Chicago.
“Obviously a guy with that talent, you want to look at, there’s no doubt about it,” Rivers said.
“I don’t think it is up to us. I think it will be up to Danny. I think there will be a lot of teams going after him and there should be. We’re going to have our day to talk.”
The Clippers made their announcement official Monday morning just after they signed Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who will be in uniform tonight when the Clippers face the Pelicans in New Orleans.
Davis, 28, will resume his career down the road from his native Baton Rouge, La., where he played college ball with LSU. He will also be reunited with Clippers coach Doc Rivers, Davis’ coach in Boston for four seasons.
Davis will not only once again be under the tutelage of Rivers but assistants Kevin Eastman, Armond Hill and Tyronn Lue, more connections from the Boston days.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” Davis said on the team Web site. “It really hasn’t donned on me. Everything’s happened so fast. Today was my first day of just really eating breakfast with the guys. It’s my first experience of bringing back old memories, especially with Doc and Armond Hill and (Lue) and Kevin Eastman. They’re a great group of guys and I won a championship with them, so we have a bond.”
It’s not official, but it’s imminent. Glen “Big Baby’ Davis is headed to the Clippers.
The forward, who has cleared waivers after being released by Orlando, will have to play for the league minimum salary because the Clippers are over the salary cap. The Clippers have roster spots open after trading away Byron Mullens and Antawn Jamison.
Davis would give the Clippers another defensive and rebounding presence and he played under Coach Doc Rivers with the Celtics.
Because the deal was not yet official, Rivers had to couch his language on the impending signing.
“What I like about a guy like that is he can play the 5 (center) or the 4 (power forward), and if we got a guy like that, he knows my system,” Rivers told reporters in Oklahoma City.
Remember when the dream scenario for the Clippers was meant to be Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes leading the charge off the bench?
As starters on Sunday, the duo combined for 60 points and the Clippers continued their three-game road trip with 125-117 win over Oklahoma City. They play in New Orleans on Monday night, then come home to face Houston on Wednesday.
The Clippers avoided losing three straight games for the first time this season.
Crawford had five 3-pointers and 36 points and Barnes made six shots from long range and scored 24 points. Blake Griffin had 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists. DeAndre Jordan had 18 points and 12 rebounds.
The Clippers withstood a 42-point, 10-assist game from Kevin Durant of the Thunder, who played without center Kendrick Perkins.
The Clippers made 13 3-pointers and are now 24-0 this seasopn when making nine or more.
“It’s important for us, it’s a part of our game that hasn’t really come through a lot this year but it did tonight,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We stretched the floor pretty well. It’s funny trying to get Matt to run to the corners like that all year and now he’s actually doing it and that’s a good shot for him.”
The Clippers are still awaiting the return of guard J.J. Redick, who is out with a bulging disc in his lower back. That would push Crawford to the second unit.
The Clippers declined to sign Sash Vujacic to another 10-day contract, particularly with Thursday’s trade deadline approaching, but that doesn’t preclude the former Laker from getting another shot.
“With the trade deadline, we didn’t want to use another 10-day,” Coach Doc Rivers said. “I liked him and you never know if we return to that or not.”
It’s the time of year all teams have a few players looking around extra intently as rumors swirl, but the Clippers are confident that they’ll keep their focus.
“(It can distract) somewhat if you pay a lot of attention to I,t but we have a lot of mature and older veteran guys on the team to where we know this is a business,” Clippers center DeAndre Jordan said. “Nobody wants to get moved around like that, but that’s the NBA.”
The All-Star break wasn’t exactly the healing salve the Clippers had hoped it would be for J.J. Redick.
The veteran guard, who had what the Clippers were calling a hip injury that cost him the previous four games, actually has a bulging disc in his lower back. So instead of being day-to-day, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said “I don’t have a clue” when Redick could return.
“Until, I guess the (term) would be ‘calms down,’ so he can get his movement back, he’ll be out,” Rivers said. “That could be three days, two weeks, three weeks. No one knows. There’s no set deadline on when he’s coming back. He could be back quick or it could take awhile.”
Redick, who previously missed 21 games with a torn ligament in his wrist, is averaging 15.7 points this season and is shooting 39.6 percent from 3-point range. When he returns, he likely won’t have the same seamless transition back into the starting he had before his latest injury, since this time he can’t run to keep his conditioning up.
Redick has been slowed by several ailments, but the Clippers believe this injury stems from the nasty fall he took in Sacramento on Nov. 29, the same incident that hurt his wrist.
“We’re not going to put him out there ’til he’s feeling great,” Rivers said.