Nets’ DeAndre Jordan answers defensive challenge

Tuesday night, DeAndre Jordan got an earful from Nets star James Harden and got into it with coach Steve Nash.

A day later, he led a huge bounce-back victory and anchored the Nets’ best defensive effort in recent memory — and perhaps all season.

Jordan — whose defense had been highly scrutinized — had 12 points, a season-high 13 boards and three blocks in the Nets’ 104-94 win over the Pacers Wednesday night. He also held Pacers standout Myles Turner to three points and three boards on 1-of-4 shooting. And Turner also committed five fouls

“I thought DJ was fantastic tonight. Played a lot of minutes. Did a great job on an All-Star center, and that type of effort and performance was pivotal for the win,” said Nash, who had multiple lengthy talks with Jordan after pulling him from Tuesday’s double-digit loss at Detroit.

“If I’m honest, it was an emotional night [Tuesday]. DJ and I got upset at each other for a minute. I know DJ got upset a few times during the game. So I’m proud of him because he bounced back with an incredible attitude, effort, performance. … For him to come back and be a veteran leader and presence, that type of effort and energy in extended minutes against an All-Star center was outstanding.”

DeAndre Jordan slams one home during the Nets' 104-94 win over the Pacers.
DeAndre Jordan slams one home during the Nets’ 104-94 win over the Pacers.

For his part, Jordan downplayed the sideline dustups with Nash and Harden.

“We’re competitors, man,” Jordan said. “Everybody on this team, all the coaches, a lot of those guys have played in this league before. And our team, we’ve got a lot of veteran guys who want to ultimately reach the pinnacle of this game of basketball. Emotions fly. It was nothing negative. It was two guys … we want to win. It’s just trying to find the right ways and schemes during the game and different adjustments, and that’s where I think our conversation went.

“A lot of things get blown out of proportion, and some of that is you guys’ fault. Some of that is just people trying to get clicks. But every conversation that people have, we can’t judge by their facial expressions. A lot of that is just how we talk during the heat of the game, you know? It’s not anything negative.”

Jordan has struggled defensively at times since inheriting the center spot full-time after Jarett Allen was traded as part of the Harden deal. But he was solid defending the Pacers’ pick-and-roll, and — on a fairly quiet team that doesn’t talk a lot — his defensive communication is going to be vital.

“It’s huge,” Joe Harris said. “He definitely is the anchor of the defense and when he plays like that, protects the rim, gets every rebound, it makes life so much easier for everybody.”

“I’m very shy, but on the floor I talk a lot,” Jordan said. “So I think that we just feed off of each other’s energy. Once there’s four or five guys out there talking, other guys come in, they start to do that same thing. I put a lot of that on myself and being able to come out and just communicate, whether it’s calling plays, telling guys to get through different things, and just I guess kind of getting us engaged on that end.”

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