Jordan's Free Throw Problems Irritate Clipper Fans
Coach Rivers Says ‘Learn To Make Them’
February 26, 2015
By Mitch Chortkoff
I often attend Doc Rivers’ pre-game sessions with the media at Staples Center.
The session was of particular interest last Thursday night because DeAndre Jordan had missed 16 free throws in the Clippers’ previous game and the coach had decided against benching his center.
The NBA rules permit intentional fouling on a player who doesn’t have the ball until two minutes remain in any period, none after that.
When Shaquille O’Neal played for the Lakers and hack-a-Shaq became popular he was frequently removed with about four minutes left in a quarter, then brought back in at the two-minute mark.
Rivers takes the opposite approach with his center and Jordan stays in the whole time.
“He just has to make the free throws,” says Rivers.
It’s an interesting plan. Don’t make it easy for the guy. Make him stand up to adversity.
Well, between us, I don’t think Rivers would do that in the playoffs, when every game is crucial. We’ll see about that. But right now Rivers reminds me of a parent teaching his children a lesson – life isn’t always easy and you must learn to cope with trouble.
As the game against the NBA champion Spurs progressed Jordan’s free throw shooting remained awful while his play in other areas remained outstanding.
His 26 points and 18 rebounds were major contributions to the Clippers’ 119-114 victory.
In the absence of Blake Griffin following elbow surgery Jordan has become a spectacular rebounder and his scoring has improved too. Jordan, Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redic have carried the Clippers in Griffin’s absence. Griffin is likely to be out for two more weeks.
“It’s a travesty that DeAndre wasn’t chosen for the all-star game,” said Rivers. “He’s been fantastic for us.”
The coach makes a point with a lot of merit, but Jordan’s season-long 41 percent free throw shooting, the worst in the NBA, stands out too.
Both myself and Observer sports columnist Bosmat Eynav paid attention to the reaction of fans and some media colleagues during Thursday’s game. There was a lot of unrest.
There wasn’t booing. Fans hadn’t reached that point as the home team was able to grind out an important victory. But it wasn’t a gleeful crowd either when Jordan constantly failed at the free throw line and the pace of a terrific game slowed down considerably.
He had an incredibly poor 10 of 28 and became the first NBA player since Wilt Chamberlain in the 1961-‘62 season to attempt at least 25 free throws in two consecutive games.
Even some players weren’t happy watching Jordan’s many trips to the free throw line.
“I don’t like the intentional fouling but it’s in the rules and when he missed it gave us a chance to win,” said the Spurs’ Tim Duncan.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t make enough shots.”
The Clippers played two more games after that.
On Saturday against Sacramento Jordan made six of 11 free throws. On Monday against Memphis he was 4-for-4.
Bosmat Eynav contributed to this article