Hornets coach: Blake Griffin among ‘best four’ players in NBA

first_imgThe Clippers have now won eight consecutive games, the last seven without leading scorer Blake Griffin. Crazy as it sounds, there are those out there who wonder if the Clippers are better without him. Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford said he did an interview Friday and was asked just that. He scoffed.“Well, I think they’ve done an unbelievable job (without Griffin),” Clifford said before his team was defeated 97-83 by the Clippers on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center. “And yet, somebody asked me … I did a thing yesterday, ‘Would they be better without (Griffin)?’ Absolutely not.”He explained his reasoning, and it made sense.“There is a big difference between playoff basketball and the regular season, and he possesses all of the traits that you have to have to win in the playoffs,” Clifford said of Griffin. “He’s a great player, great passer, obviously can score the ball. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “I mean, he was having — up to the point where he got hurt — in my opinion he had to be in the conversation for best four, five players in the league.”Griffin is averaging 23.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists. He averaged 25.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists in 14 postseason games last season.The latest on Griffin, who suffered a partially torn left quad tendon on Christmas night playing against the Lakers, is that he will be seen by a doctor sometime over the coming week. He has been shooting and running on a treadmill.Jordan adjusting to new defensive roleWith the drama of the summer long removed, coach Doc Rivers was asked to assess the play of center DeAndre Jordan, who entered play Saturday averaging 11.6 points, 13.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.center_img “I thought he started out slowly, but I think since then he’s been terrific,” Rivers said. “He does what he does and over the last month, he’s really been good. He’s progressing, he’s been great. I think our defensive changes kind of affected him a little bit — and I don’t think in a positive way — early.“But I think as he went on, now he loves where he’s at and he’s doing it and he’s been great.”Rivers said Jordan previously was more active in pick-and-roll defense than he is now.“Screening, showing, trapping,” Rivers said. “Now we have him back a lot. Early on, he didn’t know how to handle that.”Jordan was hesitant, Rivers said, but now he is very aggressive.“It was an adjustment,” Rivers said. “Being back and dropping compared to showing is a big adjustment for a 5. Our philosophy was it kept him near the basket more. Watching film as a staff this summer, we just kept noticing guys were laying it in and DJ was still trying to recover to get back to the basket because he was showing.“Now he’s there. He’s had some big blocks in games and I think the difference is because he was there.”Jordan averaged 11.5 points, 15 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 2014-15. last_img

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