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‘That’s my DJ’ — DeAndre Jordan has become a stabilizing late game force for Brooklyn

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DeAndre Jordan has been Brooklyn’s closer at center over the last two. Given his experience and ability to better bang with big frontcourts, might it be a sign of things to come?

Brooklyn Nets v Indiana Pacers Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Monday’s last second win at Indiana marked the second straight game where DeAndre Jordan was called upon to finish things off for Brooklyn.

Jordan was huge off the bench in the win over Indiana, forcing the Malcolm Brogdon miss at the buzzer and finishing with 11 points, 19 rebounds, and two blocks on 5-of-7 shooting. It was Jordan’s seventh double-double off the bench this season and he now has the most double-doubles off the bench in a season for a Net since Jamie Feick’s nine in 1999-2000.

Jordan’s impactful performance against Indiana came just a game after another impressive showing in Toronto. Although the Nets ultimately lost at the buzzer, Jordan was part of the group that erased an 18-point deficit. Jordan’s stats that night were perhaps even more impressive than they were in Indiana on Monday. DJ finished with 15 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks on 6-of-10 shooting

Given the success the Nets had in both games against two of the Eastern Conference’s best and biggest teams — two teams that have given the Nets big trouble in the past — could Jordan finishing games against similar teams become more common as we move towards the playoffs?

“It’s different every night,” Jordan told media after the win. “Some nights, units are rolling; some nights, (it’s) different personnel. (Monday) we had a good thing going. Regardless of who’s out there, we’re going to play our hardest. Some nights units are rolling, and that’s the unit he decided to stay with.”

Kenny Atkinson agreed, “We’re going to have to look at that when we’re playing these big, strong, athletic teams. It’s definitely something we’ll look at with our closing lineups. You’ve got to feel the game. It depends how the game’s going. But I’m definitely encouraged by the fourth quarter in Toronto.”

As Atkinson has said throughout the season —and harped on again Monday night, Jordan’s experience and ability to make off-the-cuff decisions in crunch time also plays a big factor.

“We need (Jordan’s) physicality. We just felt like with (Domantas) Sabonis, we needed to matchup with Sabonis, and have a really strong body in there to ward him off. I’m glad we stuck with him, (Jordan) made some big plays, big defensive plays, the play at the end – just the experience in the league and understanding that he had to step up on that shot. If he was back, who knows, they might’ve hit that shot. He had another good game for us.”

Spencer Dinwiddie added, “DJ was big-time, as he always is. He anchors our group. He was right on the switch-out (on Brogdon). There was no hesitation, no late call, nothing. He made it easy on me to try to fight Sabonis if there was going to be an opportunity. He was on Brogdon immediately.”

The Indiana, Toronto, and Philadelphia’s of the league are the teams that Jordan was signed for. There’s no doubt Jordan’s strength and physicality against these teams is an upgrade on Jarrett Allen’s physicality at this point.

Jordan has had plenty of good games this season and they’re adding up to a nice bounce back season in year one of a 4-year, $40 million deal with Brooklyn.

Indeed, in just 21 minutes a game, the three-time All-NBA center sports averages of 8.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and a PER of 20.60 – 38th best in the entire NBA!

Moreover, Jordan has remained a beast on the boards, putting up the second highest rebounds per 40 minutes of his career at 18.7. Jordan also boasts the highest true shooting percentage of his career at 69.2 percent, and only Andre Drummond, Hassan Whiteside, Enes Kanter, and Rudy Gobert have higher rebounding percentages among consistent rotation players.

Yes, Jordan’s effort is sometimes inconsistent, his mobility isn’t what it once was, he sometimes struggles with stretch bigs, but DJ remains a very productive NBA center and a positive influence in the locker room.

Not to mention, it seems the switch from Ed Davis to Jordan as Jarrett Allen’s backup has been a positive one. After a solid year with Brooklyn, Davis has disappeared from Utah’s rotation.

Look for Jordan to continue being a stabilizing force for Brooklyn and one that Atkinson could rely on more and more as the stakes get higher and the season progresses into the playoffs.

“I feel like we’re getting better as a unit,” said Jordan. “We know we have to be physical with certain teams.”

The Nets will have another tough task against a big team as they look for revenge against Toronto in their final game before the All-Star break. Don’t be surprised to see Jordan once again get the call down the stretch if the game is close.