The Los Angeles Lakers made a rare early change to their rotation, temporarily removing DeAndre Jordan and moving to a two-center tandem of Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis. Jordan had been struggling with pick-and-roll defense, but particularly hampered the Lakers’ offensive attack.
When the Lakers brought Jordan into the mix, it was clear that his minutes would be limited. During the Lakers championship run in 2020, the traditional centers rarely saw the floor in the most important moments. However, both centers always found a way to make an impact from the sideline.
That’s exactly what Jordan plans to do as he finds himself on the outside looking in. “At the end of the day, I’m a professional,” Jordan said. “So whenever I am called upon, I’m gonna try and be ready as best as I can and when I’m not called upon, I’ll be there to cheer my teammates on and kind of give pointers wherever I see fit and just be ready.
“When Dwight is in there and he’s playing well, I’m giving him tips. cheering him on, doing whatever I need to be doing to make sure that our team has that right energy to be going the right way.”
Jordan credited Rajon Rondo for perfecting that exact type of role. “And I think somebody else who does and amazing job is [Rajon Rondo]. He’ll be called on in the middle of the third quarter to go in a game, and he’s a little bit older than me and he’s ready to go at all times. He’s the first person up, I don’t even think he sits down during games, I don’t know how. But that’s the type of leadership and energy that we’re going to have and need from guys 1-15, especially when you’re in and out of the lineup.”
The Lakers center also dove into the bigger picture on the Lakers’ early struggles, trying to diagnose the issues and how they can improve from them.
“I think we’re together, I just think that we got to be able to put it together for 48 minutes. Like we get big leads on teams and then we kind of relax and we play the score and not the game and it comes back to bite us. There’s teams we should’ve beaten that we didn’t beat, there’s teams that we could’ve beaten that we didn’t beat.
“We don’t want to look back in April or whenever it is and be like ‘Wow, we could’ve had homecourt advantage, we could’ve done this, we could’ve done that if we would’ve finished a game out an extra eight minutes.’ But I think that we’re putting it together because we’re seeing it in lapses and spurts to where we’re like ‘Wow, we’re a really really good team!’ And then sometime it looks like we’re a mediocre team and we don’t accept that at all,” Jordan said of the 14-13 Lakers. “We don’t want to be that. We just got to continue to build and clean up those mistakes, but I think we did a great job moving the basketball today and trying to finish our possessions defensively.”
While there is still plenty of work to be done moving forward, there have also been some signs of improvement. L.A. is 6-4 in their last 10 games, and rank 13th in offensive rating, sixth in defensive rating, and ninth in net rating during that span.
Losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings in the last 10 games remain extremely frustrating, but the difficult losses are starting to be paired with legitimate, quality wins. Jordan tried his best to focus on that part of the equation, even if it’s one he’s not as big a part of anymore.
Jordan unaware of eclipsing 10,000-rebound mark
In the Lakers’ most recent victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Jordan got to be a part of the action and even made some history as he snagged his 10,000th career rebound. A highly impressive feat, Jordan wasn’t even aware of it until after the game had ended.
“I didn’t know, wish someone would have told me during the game,” the 33-year-old center said. “But I think it’s super cool. With this being my 14th season and just the gradual steps I’ve taken in my career early on and just building and trying to make that something, this is a great benchmark for me. It’s great to be among those other  players to have done that, so that’s awesome.”
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