On Thursday night in Oakland, the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Golden State Warriors 98-96 in a game highlighted by DeAndre Jordan's stellar defense and marred by questionable officiating.
Jordan finished with 14 points, 22 rebounds and five block shots in the victory, and his performance drew high praise from both of his better known teammates after the game.
"D.J. was cleaning up everything," Blake Griffin said after the game. "He finished with five blocks, but that doesn't even begin to paint the picture of how many shots he affected. His presence alone down there was huge."
With Jordan sitting next to him, Griffin added, "He's the anchor of our defense. He's our defensive MVP. He's our defensive captain."
In Game 1 of the series, the winning team scored 109 points. In Game 2, that winning total was 138. In Game 3, however, the Clippers secured a victory with only 98 points. This was a night when defense won.
"It doesn't surprise me," Clippers point guard Chris Paul commented on Jordan's performance. "He covers up for us so many times. When guys get by us, he's just there for us."
Paul said he did not keep track of stats during the game and did not realize that Jordan tied the Clippers' franchise playoffs record for rebounds with 22. To Paul, winning was all that mattered, and Jordan's defense had plenty to do with that.
"Defense is fun," Paul said. "That's the way that we're winning right now."
Along with defense, the Clippers also won with controversy. In the eyes of the Warriors coaches, the Warriors players and the analysts on TNT, the network broadcasting the game, Paul got away with a foul at the end of the game that would have given Warriors guard Stephen Curry three free throws and the ability to take a late lead from the foul line.
"He fights. He doesn't give up an inch," Griffin said about his feisty point guard after the game.
The post game controversy surrounded Paul possibly making contact with Curry's arm on the final shot attempt and definitely walking under the shooter, i.e. not allowing him to land cleanly. Curry had a long conversation with the officials after the game, but the result was final, and the Clippers had taken Game and restored their home court advantage in the series.
After the game, Warriors coach Mark Jackson addressed questions asking if he thought a foul should have been called by reminding reporters that a player had the right to land on the floor after taking a shot.
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The coach added, "I'm not looking for an apology tomorrow."
Paul was fortunate not to hear a whistle on the final play, but his mentality was about getting the win by any means necessary.
"I knew who was getting it." Paul referenced Curry when talking about the final play. "I figured he was shooting it, so I just tried to make him as uncomfortable as possible."
Paul succeeded, the Clippers won and LA reclaimed home court advantage. With the win, the Clippers lead the best of seven series 2-1. Game 4 is at the ORACLE Arena in Oakland on Sunday.