Contrary to report, DeAndre Jordan practiced free-throw shooting a lot

Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan hug it out.

Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan share a hug/Photo by USATSI

 

I have read with great interest about the alleged discord between Clippers point guard Chris Paul and center DeAndre Jordan. No sooner were the Clippers eliminated by the Rockets in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals Sunday, than did a story surface about how perturbed Paul has been about Jordan not working enough on his free-throw shooting during the season.

The rumor, according to this report that by the way did not quote anyone by name but went with the old “source” thing, is that Jordan may not re-sign with the Clippers, in part because of this.

I won’t mention the reporter or publication by name here because I don’t think one reporter should publicly argue with another. But I can tell you that the reporter who broke the story was not at Clippers practices on any kind of a regular basis this season. So while I’m not doubting that this reporter was told what was reported, said reporter wasn’t present enough to have seen for himself.

As someone who was at virtually every Clippers home practice and shootaround this season, I can say with conviction that no other Clippers player practiced his free-throw shooting as much as Jordan. He was often at a corner basket shooting one after another and usually a coach was with him.

That’s why any time coach Doc Rivers mentioned to us that no one shoots more practice free throws on the team than Jordan, it was easy to believe.

Now, we’re not naive. It is possible that Paul has indeed become fed up with having a starter on the team that has difficulty making more than 4 out of every 10 free throws – Jordan shot 39.7 percent this season and has a 41.7-percent career average.

But Paul, who is ultra-competitive, never expressed anything but support this season for Jordan in this regard. There never seemed to be any body language on his part that would indicate he’s mad as heck and can’t take it anymore.

Speaking of Paul’s competitiveness, the report also included an inference that Jordan does not like Paul’s “edginess” and that it wore on Jordan’s nerves. I didn’t see anything obvious in that regard, either, but sometimes professional athletes do a good job of keeping stuff like that under wraps.

More than anything, I wanted to shoot down the notion that Jordan did not practice his free throws enough. The view from here is that he practiced them more than enough. He made a lot more during practice than he did in the games, too.

I remember at one practice he asked reporters if we noticed how many of them he was making that day. He then admitted that it gets into his head during games.

I inquired about this today. I hate using the “source” thing, so I won’t go into all the details of what I found out about why this rumor has circulated. All I can say is I was told that this is all a bunch of bull and that if Jordan does leave, it won’t have anything to do with Paul.

Again, we’re not naive. That itself could be hogwash.

We’ll see what else comes up in this regard. Stay tuned.

 

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Magic Johnson says Clippers’ loss to Rockets will haunt them forever

Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson/Associated Press file photo by Reed Saxon

 

Magic Johnson helped play host to a Los Angeles news conference Monday to announce the intention to build a 22,000-seat stadium that would house the expansion Los Angeles Football Club that will play in the MLS. Johnson is one of several in the ownership group.

During his time with reporters, Johnson was asked about the Clippers falling in seven games to the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals. Never shy to speak his mind, Johnson said quite a bit.

“Well, I was disappointed because Chris Paul is my good friend, Doc Rivers is a good friend and I want them to win and get the monkey off their backs,” Johnson said.

He then talked about Game 6, when the Clippers blew a 19-point lead late in the third quarter. Not only did they lose that one 119-107 at home at  Staples Center, they missed their best chance to close out the series and advance to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history. The Clippers lost Game 7 by a 113-100 count Sunday in Houston.

“I thought they missed the opportunity in Game 6,” Johnson said. “You gotta close out at home. You can’t allow it to go to a Game 7. If you think about all the Lakers heydays, when we had closeout games and we had them in the Forum or Staples Center with Kobe (Bryant) and Shaq (O’Neal) or with my Showtime Lakers, we closed out. So when you have your opportunity, you gotta close out.

“I remember when we didn’t, in terms of we had the Celtics in seven games and we lost there, that will haunt us forever and this loss will haunt the Clippers forever because they had their opportunity up 20 in the third quarter. You gotta win that game in the Staples Center. So we’ll see what happens.”

Johnson intimated he’s hopeful the Clippers can get over the hump.

“I wish them well because I want so bad for Chris Paul to have his opportunity to play in the championship,” he said. “I want that for him. He’s meant a lot to the league, but also to the fans here in Los Angeles because this is a Lakers town, but we like Chris Paul. We do. We love the way he plays, his leadership.

Blake (Griffin) has really grown. You saw him grow up this season and really do some wonderful things. But at the same time, it’s going to be tough for them to swallow this.”

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Doc Rivers preaches trust, and he’s sure the Clippers can find their way

Doc Rivers/Photo by Associated Press

 

Doc Rivers talked about a lot of things after his team was eliminated from the playoffs when it lost 113-100 at Houston on Sunday in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.

One of the issues he touched on was trust and buying into the system.

“You keep preaching it, you keep working on it,” he said. “I got to do a better job. I told them this is on everybody. It’s not on the stars, it’s not on the bench, it’s not on whoever. It’s on the entire team and that’s part of it. You can do it, I’ve seen it done.”

Rivers coached the Boston Celtics to the 2008 NBA title.

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 113-100 Game 7 loss to the Rockets

Jamal Crawford brings the ball up court as the Rockets’ James Harden whoops it up during the third quarter of Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals Sunday at Toyota Center in Houston/Photo by James Nielsen, Houston Chronicle

 

 

– The first thing we take from this Game 7 loss is that had the Clippers taken care of business when they should have in Game 6 at Staples Center when they had the Rockets right where they wanted them with a 19-point lead late in the third quarter, there never would have been a Game 7. And the Clippers would be playing the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals instead of the Rockets. You snooze, you lose.

– The Trio of J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes struggled shooting from the field for the third consecutive game – all Clippers losses. Redick scored 10 points on 4 of 12 shooting, Barnes was scoreless on 0 of 2 and Crawford scored a hard 17 points on 6 of 18. They were a combined 5 of 19 from 3-point range. As a team, the Clippers shot just 25 percent (7 of 28) from beyond the arc, also their third poor performance from there in succession.

Doc Rivers bemoaned the turnovers, noting his Clippers were “a low-turnover” team all season. The Clippers had 18, the Rockets 17 total (16 player, 1 team). But the Clippers scored only 17 points off Rockets miscues, while the Rockets scored 27 off the Clippers’. Redick had six turnovers, Blake Griffin five and Chris Paul four.

– Other than Crawford’s 17 points – and again, they were not a good 17 points – the Clippers received virtually nothing from their bench. Austin Rivers and Glen “Big Baby” Davis each scored two points. That was it. Houston got 11 points from Corey Brewer, eight from Terrence Jones, four from Pablo Prigioni and two from Clint Capela. Moreover, Prigioni had four assists and three steals in 20 productive minutes.

– The Clippers did well to fight back in this game, pulling within three points in the third quarter and within eight twice late in the fourth. But Doc Rivers was not happy when Trevor Ariza hit a 3-pointer with just under a minute to play to increase his team’s lead to 11 and sealing the Clippers’ fate. Rivers was obviously dismayed when he called a timeout, looking at his players as if to say, “Why was he so open?” Rivers afterward said his team missed a lot of assignments. The Rockets shot 40 percent (12 of 30) from 3-point range.

BONUS TAKE: Rockets guard James Harden did not shoot well from the field, making 7 of 20. But his game-high 31 points included 18 trips to the free-throw line; he made 15. By the way, the Clippers shot just 17 free throws all game, the Rockets 41.

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J.J. Redick says crushing Game 7 loss feels ‘like a wake or a funeral’

Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers congratulates Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets after the Rockets defeated the Clippers 113 to 100 during Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Toyota Center for the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 17, 2015 in Houston, Texas.   (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Blake Griffin of the Clippers shakes hands with the Rockets’ Dwight Howard following Houston’s 113-100 victory over the Clippers in Game 7/Photo by Scott Halleran, Getty Images

 

J.J. Redick wasn’t the only member of the Clippers to struggle in the last three games of the Western Conference semifinals won by the Houston Rockets on Sunday via a 113-100 count over the Clippers in Game 7 at Toyota Center in Houston.

Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes also struggled.

Redick on Sunday scored 10 points on 4 of 12 shooting, 2 of 9 from 3-point range. He also had six of his team’s 18 turnovers.

Afterward, Redick described the mood.

“Still in shock,” he said. “Sadness. Disappointment. You never want to equate sports with death, but it does feel like a wake or a funeral.”

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Kevin McHale: Rockets were different team from Game 1 to Game 7

Los Angeles Clippers' Jamal Crawford covers his face as he walks down the court in the closing seconds of the second half in Game 7 of the NBA basketball Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets Sunday, May 17, 2015, in Houston. The Rockets won 113-100. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Jamal Crawford of the Clippers hides his face in the closing seconds of the Clippers’ 113-100 loss to the Houston Rockets in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals Sunday at Toyota Center in Houston/Photo by David J. Phillip, Associated Press

 

Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale on Sunday evening was asked to talk about the difference between the Rockets team that lost Game 1 by 16 points at Toyota Center to the team that won Game 7 by a 113-100 count there over the Clippers in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals to move on to the conference finals against Golden State.

“Game 1 and Game 7 were two different teams completely,” he said. “The Game 1 team was really lethargic, walking around and we didn’t play with much pace and force.

“The Game 7 team you saw today was the way we played most of the year. With force, with aggression.”

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Blake Griffin has 12 points in first half, but Clippers trail Rockets 56-46

The Houston Rockets on Sunday led by as many as 15 points in the first half before settling for a 56-46 lead over the Clippers at the break in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals at Toyota Center in Houston.

Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 12 points and Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford each scored 10. Interestingly, Paul had only one assist.

Dwight Howard and James Harden scored 12 points apiece for the Rockets and Josh Smith had nine points.

The Clippers are doing a much better job on the boards, outrebounding the Rockets 26-24. Houston outrebounded the Clippers by 19 in each of the past two games – both Rockets victories.

The winner will advance to the conference finals against Golden State.

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Clippers could use better shooting from beyond the arc in Game 7

Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan don’t look too happy here during the second half of Game 6, a 119-107 loss to the Rockets on Thursday that resulted in a Game 7 for Sunday back in Houston/Photo by Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

 

The Clippers shot 37.6 percent from 3-point range during the regular season, third-best in the NBA. They have shot just 25.7 percent and 23.3 percent from beyond the arc in the past two games of the Western Conference semifinals against the Rockets – both Clippers losses.

Coach Doc Rivers on Saturday was asked specifically how hopeful he is that will improve in Game 7 on Sunday at 12:30 at Toyota Center in Houston. He then touched on the fourth quarter of Thursday’s Game 6, when the Clippers shot just 4 of 22 from the field – 2 of 9 from 3-point range – in their 119-107 defeat.

“I mean, we’ve had open shots,” he said. “You look at that fourth-quarter debacle, I mean, we had a lot of open looks. It’s funny, live I thought we did. And on film, it was even better than I thought.

“Not only did we have open looks, for the most part, we had them by the guys that we wanted to and they just didn’t go in. The one thing that will never change is it’s a make-miss league. If you make them, you’re better.”

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DeAndre Jordan: ‘We have a job to do’ in Game 7 at Toyota Center

DeAndre Jordan guards Dwight Howard of the Rockets/Staff photo by John McCoy

 

With their epic collapse in Game 6 at Staples Center on Thursday, the Clippers will have a difficult task in trying to defeat the Houston Rockets in Game 7 on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Toyota Center in Houston.

Clippers center DeAndre Jordan knows it.

“We have a job to do,” he said. “We have to be able to go in there with a tough Houston crowd and try to get a win.”

The Rockets will be trying to become just the ninth team in NBA history to come back to win a seven-game series after being down 3-1.

The Clippers led Game 6 by an 87-68 count with 3:04 to play in the third quarter before the Rockets outscored them 51-20 the rest of the way, defeating the Clippers 119-107.

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