OAKLAND, Calif. -- DeAndre Jordan has made a major imprint on the playoff series between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers.
A ghost in the Warriors' Game 4 blowout victory, the Clippers' 6-foot-11 center was back to his dominant self as Los Angeles seized a 3-2 series lead with a win in Game 5. If Golden State doesn't have an answer for him in Thursday's Game 6 at Oracle Arena, it could be curtains on the Warriors' season.
"I thought we did a poor job competing against him (Tuesday) night," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "Early on in the game, he just jumps in and gets a dunk. It takes the life out of you a little bit. We've got to do a better job. We've got to own the fact that we didn't do it, and we've got to do a better job."
Jordan dominated the action with 25 points and 18 rebounds Tuesday in Los Angeles, looking nothing like the player who was held scoreless in Game 4 on Sunday in Oakland.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Jordan has to show up for Los Angeles to win.
"DJ has to be there every night," Rivers said. "He's so important to us. The value of it almost can't be measured, because he does so many things with his athleticism and defense. He has the ability to erase our mistakes, be a one-man rebounding machine that gives us extra possessions."
What was the key difference in the play of Jordan, who admitted to being distracted by the Donald Sterling controversy in Game 4?
"He asserted himself," Warriors forward Draymond Green said of Jordan. "Game 4, he only took one shot. We did a great job of limiting him to one shot. However, he only had one offensive rebound. In Game 5, I'm not sure how many he had."
Jordan grabbed six offensive boards in Game 5, which has been a magic number in this series. Excluding the Game 2 blowout, the Warriors are 2-0 this series when holding Jordan to five or fewer offensive rebounds but 0-2 when he exceeds that total.
"Those things not only fuel him, they fuel the team," Green said. "Putbacks, dunks, lobs -- which they didn't get in Game 4 -- they got in Game 5. That's how he hurts you.
"Then all of a sudden he gets a few dunks and now he's more comfortable shooting jump hooks or backing down people. We've just got to take those lobs out of the game and take those offensive rebounds out of the game, and I think you can minimize his scoring."
David Lee has received his fair share of defensive challenges this series. With Jermaine O'Neal starting the first three games, Lee's primary assignment was Blake Griffin. Now with Green starting and mostly drawing Griffin, Lee has to slow Jordan -- a far less polished offensive player but one who led the NBA in field-goal percentage because of his ability to get easy shots around the rim.
The Warriors' small starting lineup worked in Game 4 -- with Jordan limited to zero points and six rebounds -- but it was a different story in Game 5.
"We know how he's going to get his points," Lee said of Jordan. "It's going to be offensive rebounds and when you help on those other guys, him getting lobs on the back end.
"I've got to start the game doing a better job of keeping him off the glass. It's a tough task but something, as we saw in Game 4, that I'm capable of doing."
Jackson said it's a matter of his team being aggressive.
"When you look at when we won and when we lost, whether you're a Clipper or a Warrior, the aggressive team with the other team on his heels has won the ballgame," he said. "When we forced the issue, when we got them out of their comfort zone, when we took Blake Griffin off the ball and we took DeAndre Jordan off the boards and kept him away from the rim, we wound up winning the ballgame."
Now the Warriors have to win or their season is over.
"I'm not going to say we like where we are," Jackson said. "But the task is not a task we're looking at that cannot be done, so we're excited about Game 6."
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