LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (48-23)
During Saturday’s 101-95 win against the Brooklyn Nets, something happened for the first time since February 6: DeAndre Jordan played more than 30 minutes. Moreover, he made the most of that increased run — 12 points on a perfect 6-for-6 clip from the field. A dozen rebounds, five of which came on the offensive glass. Three blocks. And a team-leading +16 on the night. Plus, on the other side of the ball, Brook Lopez, fresh off a monster 38 point/11 rebound performance against Dallas, notched just 18 points and a paltry two boards. While all the credit certainly isn’t Jordan’s, he obviously played a hand in the success. Tuesday against Dallas, the trend continued, with 32 minutes logged despite the Mavericks playing without a traditional center. His eight point/11 rebound outing wasn’t quite as impressive, and more importantly, the Clippers lost 109-102, but it was nonetheless interesting to see Jordan’s minutes extended again.
Could this be a trend in the works? If so, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Obviously, Jordan’s minutes will at times be dictated by matchups, and his putrid free throw shooting (40.4 percent!!!) can make fourth quarter dicey for him. But there’s no question with Jordan on the bench, the basket and lane grow considerably more vulnerable. The center is just a hair behind Blake Griffin for top honors among Clippers when it comes to defensive rebounding rate, and more importantly, he’s far and away the team’s best shot-blocker. It’s also safe to assume no Clipper is more capable of altering shots than he of the ridiculous wing span. That’s not to say Lamar Odom, the most likely candidate to siphon Jordan’s minutes, brings nothing to the table, but he doesn’t entirely replicate what’s lost.
Frankly, neither does anybody on this roster.
In the end, it may not be mandatory for Vinny Del Negro to play Jordan 30+ minutes, no questions asked, but hopefully these last two games signal a more open attitude towards the concept.
SACRAMENTO KINGS (25-42)
Et tu, Spencer?
This was essentially the reaction from Kings fans upon hearing Sixers big man Spencer Hawes, who entered the league in 2007 as Sacto’s 10th overall pick, openly lobby for the franchise to be relocated to Seattle. That Hawes is an Emerald City native who knows the pain of losing a beloved squad clearly didn’t soften the sting of hearing the center declare, “I want to see my hometown get a franchise. There is some confliction, but I’m not going to beat around the bush about what my stance is.”
As a result, the Kings faithful booed Hawes every time he touched the ball during Sunday’s 117-103 loss to Philly. This reaction wasn’t unexpected, given the raw nerve that is this franchise’s potential exit. But the hostility of fans once Hawes’ own didn’t prompt a softened stance. Ironically, as detailed by Cowbell Kingdom’s Jonathan Santiago, the same “it’s business, not personal” attitude that created NBA basketball in Oklahoma City is exactly why Hawes can look past the hurt feelings he personally knows will be felt by residents of California’s capital.
“Kind of history repeating itself, I guess. From having been on the other side of it – just as a fan, watching when the Sonics left to Oklahoma City the first time around, it’s just such a touchy situation. (I’m) feeling like I have a little bit of connections to both sides, but you know like I said, at the same time, this is kind of what the business of basketball has become. And it’s all about the revenues, where the most opportunities are. And I think for better or for worse, that’s what it’s come to.”
Cold, but still hard to argue.
In the meantime, the Sacramento City Council approved the proposed new arena deal by a 7-2 vote Tuesday, so consider the plot thickened.
Brian and Andy Kamenetzky are sportswriters and radio hosts who have worked in sports media for over a decade. They have covered the Lakers and the NBA for eight seasons, for both the LATimes.com and ESPN.com, as well as ESPN The Magazine. Follow them on Twitter at @KamBrothers.