The Los Angeles Clippers have needed big performances from their starting center throughout a hard-fought series, but big man DeAndre Jordan simply hasn't come through. Coming off a six-point effort in Game 5, which qualifies as his best scoring output of the postseason so far, Jordan was the target of some criticism from head coach Vinny Del Negro.
Speaking after Tuesday's 103-93 loss at Staples Center, which has the Clippers on the brink of elimination heading into Game 6, Del Negro made it clear that Jordan needs to step up, as Phil Collin of the L.A. Daily News writes:
I don’t know if crossroads is the right (word) but there’s definitely a level you have to play at right now that is much different. He has a much different responsibility now. He understands it. I haven’t seen the consistency that I like. He hasn’t seen the consistency he would like.
In the first five games of the series, Jordan has averaged 3.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and a couple of blocks per contest. Earlier in the series, when the Clippers' offense was rolling, his ability to control the paint seemed to be enough to win the series, but the Grizzlies' big men have dominated the past three games, all Memphis wins.
Jordan played 31 minutes in Game 5, his most since the opening game of the series, but it made little difference. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for 46 points and 19 rebounds in the pivotal game, the third straight game they've combined for 40-plus points.
With Del Negro effectively on the hot seat given his expiring contract and disappointing results this season, it's not surprising he's pulling out all the stops to keep his job. How his relationship with Jordan will fare going forward is another question, though, particularly after he pushed the Jordan-for-Kevin Garnett trade idea earlier this year.