PORTLAND, Ore. — The Nets were without DeAndre Jordan when they opened their season-long five-game road trip Friday night. But the center insists they won’t finish it without him.
Jordan, who missed Friday’s 119-115 win over the Trail Blazers with a sprained ankle, said he’s confident he will be able to return on the trip.
“Oh, hell yes,” Jordan told The Post.
Taking one look at the way Nic Claxton excelled in his absence could motivate anybody to come back. The rookie made his NBA debut Friday, serving as the backup center and doing it well.
“He’s the second-most talented player on the team,” Spencer Dinwiddie said of Claxton.
Claxton had eight points and six rebounds in just 12 minutes off the bench.
“When I first got in, it was moving extremely fast. I just had to calm down stick to my principles and the outcome was good,” said Claxton, who was greeted with raucous cheers in the postgame locker room.
“He played amazing. I was so hyped to see him out there,” Allen said. “First couple minutes, got to get the nerves out for his first game as a rookie. But once he calmed down, he was getting offensive rebounds and getting putbacks.”
Jordan and Allen had split the center spot through the Nets’ first seven games. Their playing time had been fairly comparable, but their play was on opposite ends of the spectrum.
While Allen came into Friday a team-high plus-49 in 190 minutes (four starts), Jordan is actually a team-worst minus-42 in 148 minutes.
That’s likely not the sort of production the Nets had hoped for from Jordan when they showered him with a four-year, $40 million contract in June.
Now Allen will see his playing time spike until Jordan’s return.
Portland’s big man situation was also tenuous, with Jusuf Nurkic still recovering from a compound fracture in his left tibia and fibula suffered March 25 against the Nets (He went for 32 points and 16 rebounds before getting hurt).
Pau Gasol is injured as well, but Portland has All-Star Hassan Whiteside. The former Heat big man, who averaged 17.5 points against the Nets last season for Miami, had just 10 on Friday. He shot 4 of 10 from the floor.