DeAndre Jordan made solid strides, but still has lots of work to do

Photo by Associated Press

Center DeAndre Jordan made terrific strides this past season. He became one of the most feared defenders in the league, as well as its best rebounder. For his efforts,
Jordan finished third in voting for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, fifth for Most Improved.

But his season-long troubles from the free-throw line – which at times had opposing coaches ordering him fouled on purpose – as well as his random disappearing acts in
the playoffs demonstrated he still has lots of work to do.

Jordan shot just 42.8 percent from the free-throw line in 2013-14. Sure, that was up from 38.6 percent a season earlier in 2012-13. Then again, he shot a career-best 52.5 percent in 2011-12. Sometimes, he’s not even close to making his free throws. Air balls are not uncommon.

It’s not that he doesn’t take them seriously. Jordan is obviously a player who cares very much about everything he does on the basketball court. The pained expressions
he wears after a bad trip to the line bear that out. Go to a Clippers practice or shoot-around, and there is Jordan working with a coach on his free throws.

Perhaps he should think about using Rick Barry’s granny-style free-throw shot. And we’re not saying that to be sarcastic. Barry shot 89.3 percent from the line over a
14-year career; he shot over 90 percent seven times, including the last six seasons of his career. All due respect, Jordan probably couldn’t get much worse. So why not give it a shot?

As for Jordan’s 13-game playoff run that saw the Clippers lose 4-2 to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference semifinals, it’s interesting to note Jordan’s statistical lines in the four defeats to the Thunder. Keep in mind that during the regular season he averaged 10.4 points, 13.6 rebounds and 2.48 blocks. In a Game 2 loss to the Thunder he had seven points, eight rebounds and zero blocks. In a Game 3 loss he had 10 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. In a Game 5 loss he had zero points, just four rebounds and no blocks. In Game 6 he had nine points and 15 rebounds, but again no blocks.

Some of this was due to foul trouble, which just adds to the negativity. But these off games were not the result of poor free-throw shooting getting into his head. He shot a combined four free throws in those four losses, making two.

The thing about Jordan is he wants very much to become a star in this league (as evidenced by his emotion in the above Associated Press photo). If anyone can improve upon some of these things, it’s got to be him. He must start with his free throws because being the second-worst in the league in that department – Detroit’s Andre Drummond shot 41.8 percent – is just not acceptable. He must do whatever it takes to turn this around.

Here’s something else: Jordan next season will be in the final year of his four-year contract; he’ll get $11,440,124 in 2014-15. Currently just 25, Jordan will be 26 after the season. Not saying the Clippers won’t re-sign him if he doesn’t get better from the line, but Jordan might be hard-pressed to get what he believes he deserves if he shoots under 50 percent yet again, and/or doesn’t have a better overall post-season performance.
He was 33 of 76 from the line this post-season. That equates to 43.4 percent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

TNT analyst Reggie Miller weighs in on series between Clippers and Thunder

Former NBA star and current TNT analyst Reggie Miller has a couple of thoughts regarding the Western Conference semifinals series between the Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder, which begins Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.

Regarding Clippers post DeAndre Jordan, Miller said: “He is playing at an all-time high level for (coach) Doc Rivers after being slighted for Defensive Player of the Year. He is showing how important his defense is for the Clippers.”

Jordan finished third in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year.

As for OKC’s Kevin Durant, Miller alluded to the headline “Mr. Unreliable” printed by the Oklahoman ahead of the Thunder’s Game 7 victory over Memphis, in which Durant scored 33 points.

“The Oklahoman newspaper headline was probably the best thing to happen to KD – it woke him up,” Miller said. ‘Mr. Reliable’ will show why he will earn his first MVP title.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Doc Rivers, Blake Griffin marvel at DeAndre Jordan after Game 5 victory

Like virtually the entire team, DeAndre Jordan was bummed out when he took the floor Sunday at Oracle Arena in Oakland for Game 4 of the Clippers’ Western Conference playoff series against Golden State. Only a day earlier the team found out its owner – Donald Sterling – had spewed racist comments about African-Americans during an argument with his girlfriend V. Stiviano.

The result was a 118-97 victory for the Warriors. In the game, Jordan had zero points, just six rebounds and two blocks.

Two days later, on Tuesday, NBA commissioner Adam Sterling punished Sterling by banning him for life from the Clippers and the rest of the NBA, with the vow he would try to push Sterling out altogether via a 75-percent vote of the other league owners.

Happy days were here again for the Clippers, and it showed Tuesday night when they defeated the Warriors 113-103 in Game 5 at Staples Center to take a 3-2 series lead into Game 6 on Thursday night at Oracle Arena. Jordan’s numbers? He had 25 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks.

His teammate, Blake Griffin, marveled.

“I mean, he was huge tonight,” Griffin said post-game. “He was unreal. I’ve never seen him play a game like that from start to finish. Obviously, on defense  he was great and when he plays like that, it takes our team to another level. He was dissapointed in Game 4, like we all were and it showed tonight. He bottled up some energy and bottled up some anger and left it all out there.”

Coach Doc Rivers was reminded of what Griffin said during a conference call Wednesday. Rivers took it a step further.

“DJ has to be there every night,” Rivers said. “He’s so important to us and that’s what I’ve been telling everyone all year. His importance to this team, the value of it, almost can’t be measured because he does so many things with his athleticism, his enreryg, his
defense. He bails us out so many times defensively, from a game-plan mistake or just a great play by the other team. The fact that he has the ability to erase our mistakes,
his ability to be just a one-man rebounding machine, gives us extra possessions. His value to our team is unlimited.”

Six of Jordan’s rebounds Tuesday were on the offensive end.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Blake Griffin doesn’t know why DeAndre Jordan had such an off game Sunday

DeAndre Jordan had 14 points, 22 rebounds – which tied a franchise playoff record – and five blocked shots in Thursday’s 98-96 Game 3 victory over the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.

He had zero points, six rebounds and two blocked shots in 25 minutes of a game in which he was in foul trouble in the first half of the Clippers’ 118-97 loss to the Warriors in Game 4 Sunday.

His teammate, Blake Griffin, was asked in the post-game news conference if he believes the surrounding events – owner Donald Sterling’s alleged racist remarks – affected Jordan.

“I really can’t speak on that,” Griffin said. “I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you. Everybody has games that aren’t as good as others. I think, honestly, I think we all really had one of those games tonight. So I can’t really … I couldn’t really tell you.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

DeAndre Jordan: Doc Rivers ‘makes you want to run through a brick wall for him’

In one season, Doc Rivers has helped transformed the Clippers into one of the best teams in the NBA. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)

In one season, Doc Rivers has helped transformed the Clippers into one of the best teams in the NBA. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)

With the Clippers in the playoffs, the players — among others — are lauding Doc Rivers.

DeAndre Jordan:

“He just makes you want to run through a brick wall for him. That’s what he puts in everybody. And it’s not just because the way he talks, it’s how he looks at you in the eyes so you know that it’s something that he really believes in.”

Chris Paul:

“He’s, to me, probably one of the most competitive persons in the league.”

Blake Griffin:

“Every time he speaks during practice, for me it’s a learning experience…”

Read the full story here: “Doc Rivers gets universal praise for Clippers leadership

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Five things to take from Clippers’ 117-105 victory over Denver on Tuesday

- Jamal Crawford’s outside shot was way off in this one. He was 3 of 9 from the field, 0 of 3 from 3-point range and he tossed up a couple of serious bricks. Since he has battled his calf injury for so long, this performance could create some worry. But not for teammate Blake Griffin. “I’m not concerned, definitely not,” he said. “Jamal will be ready to play. Everybody has an off game, if you even want to call it that. But Jamal is the least of our concerns, the least of my concerns, for sure.”

- It’s almost hard to believe that one player could amass as many as 16 technical fouls in a season. Griffin got his 16th in this one, though it could be rescinded. Still, whether it’s 15 or 16, it kind of boggles the mind. Then again, it’s Griffin’s intensity that helps make him the great player he’s become.

- Man, J.J. Redick was stroking that 3-pointer. He looked really good in making 4 of 6 from long distance, and his return to form could not come at a better time with the playoffs knocking on the door.

- Check out the line of Chris Paul: 21 points on 8 of 10 shooting, 3 of 5 from 3-point range; 10 assists; two steals; and just one turnover in 28 minutes. Not too shabby.

- DeAndre Jordan’s poor free-throw shooting was again a topic of conversation on press row. He missed his first seven before making his eighth, after which he received a round of applause. Interestingly, it’s not like he’s tossing up a laser that bounces 12 feet off the rim when he misses, the way other players do who struggle from the line. His shot is soft and often on line. Then it will hit the front of the rim and fall almost straight down. It seems like he’s close to making more. But his six-year career percentage of 42.5 suggests otherwise. He is shooting 42.8 percent this year.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Five things to take from Clippers’ franchise-tying 56th victory

- It was of course great to see Jamal Crawford back out there. Even better was that he hit two clutch 3-point baskets to help his team pull away for the 117-101 victory over a poor yet stubborn Kings team on Saturday.

- Yes, it was the franchise-tying 56th victory of the season for the Clippers. That’s all good, but that won’t mean much of the Clippers don’t advance past the first round of the playoffs.

- Unless something weird happens, DeAndre Jordan is about a lock to finish as the NBA’s regular-season leader in field goal percentage and rebounding. He is currently averaging 13.7 rebounds, ahead of second-place Andre Drummond of Detroit (13.2). With his 9-for-13 performance against the Kings, he’s now shooting 67.5 percent from the field; Drummond is second at 62.5. Only two other players have ever led the league in both categories – Wilt Chamberlain (8 times) and Dwight Howard.

- That said, Jordan needs to improve his free-throw shooting. That’s not news. But he was just 3 of 11 against the Kings, dropping his season average to 43.4 percent. It’s true that he was even worse last season – 38.6 percent – but still, he’s gotta get better there. He’s shooting 42.7 percent in his six years in the league.

- We say this a lot, but man oh man, you have got to love the way Blake Griffin plays. The man is a beast, but he’s also become a great passer. He had nine assists against the Kings, and some of them were beautiful things to see.

-

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Five things to look for in Clippers’ game Wednesday at Phoenix

- Look for the Goran Dragic-led Suns to give an inspiring effort. As of right now they are tied with Memphis for the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings. Ninth-place Dallas is only a half-game behind those two. Phoenix and Memphis are both 44-30 and have eight games left each. Dallas is 44-31 with seven games remaining.

- Look for Chris Paul to continue his terrific play. The Clippers are 3-1 on this road trip. In the game they lost – March 26 at New Orleans – Paul was 0 of 12 from the field and scored just two points. In successive victories over Dallas, Houston and Minnesota, he has scored 31, 30 and 22 points with 30 assists.

- Expect another heavy rebounding night from DeAndre Jordan, who seems to be getting stronger and even more dynamic as the regular season nears an end. Not only is he leading the NBA in rebounding with a 13.9 average, check this out: he has 67 rebounds on the road trip. That’s a 16.7 average. He had 24 Monday at Minnesota.

- If Blake Griffin is out again because of his back, expect Jared Dudley to again be a capable replacement. Keep in mind that even though he did not play Monday, Griffin did dress, meaning he wasn’t that far from being able to go. If Jamal Crawford (calf) also misses his second consecutive game, that could be a lot to deal with against a team fighting for it’s playoff life.

- If Griffin and Crawford play and are at least close to being reasonably healthy, the Clippers win this game going away because they are rolling right now.  Even without those two they could win because along with Paul and Jordan, Matt Barnes and Darren Collison have been heavy contributors.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Some cool numbers to ponder ahead of Clippers’ game Wednesday at Phoenix

- Prior to Monday’s victory at Minnesota, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin were first and fourth in the league in dunks. Jordan had 218, Griffin 158 (Griffin did not play against the T’Wolves because of back spasms).

- The Clippers have sold out 130 consecutive home games, sixth best in the league. The Mavericks lead the way with 565 and the Miami Heat are second with 182. These numbers include regular-season and playoff games. The Clippers return home Thursday to take on the Mavericks.

- And this, from ESPN.com: At 53-22, the Clippers are more than 30 games over .500 for the first time in the 44-year history of the franchise.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email