DeAndre Jordan improves free throws as opponents give him more practice

DeAndre Jordan improves free throws as opponents give him more practice
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is fouled by Spurs forward Tim Duncan while trying to drive to the basket in the first half. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Even Tim Duncan, one of the primary perpetrators trying to slow DeAndre Jordan and the Clippers, wasn't fond of what his team was doing.

The San Antonio Spurs big man and future Hall of Famer told his Clippers counterpart as much during a break in the game between the teams Thursday night at Staples Center.

"He's like, 'Man, I hate playing like that,' " Jordan said after the game, recalling what Duncan told him about the Spurs' strategy to keep intentionally fouling the notoriously poor free-throw shooter. "I said, 'I've got to make them,' and he's like, 'Yeah, once you start making them, then it's going to be tough. Teams are going to have a problem.' "

The Clippers' opponents already have a problem trying to stop Jordan. A huge one.


Even with his well-documented struggles at the free-throw line, Jordan has become one of the NBA's most relentless forces in February, averaging 17.0 points and 16.6 rebounds while shooting 70% from the field. He's compiled three games of at least 20 points and 20 rebounds and nearly had a fourth during the Clippers' 119-115 victory over the Spurs on Thursday, finishing with 26 points and 18 rebounds.


"To me, I think he's our most valuable player," Clippers All-Star point guard Chris Paul said.

OK, so Jordan is not perfect. He made only 10 of 28 free throws against San Antonio and is shooting 40.8% from the foul line this season.

"I dropped out of college," Jordan said when told how many free throws he had made against the Spurs, "but percentagewise, I don't think that's" good.

Jordan made nine of 24 free throws while being intentionally fouled, one game after making seven of 16 free throws in the same scenario late in the game during a victory over the Houston Rockets.

Overall, Jordan has taken 54 free throws over his last two games. Of course, there's another number he'd prefer to avoid.

"I don't want to know how many I made," he quipped.

The cover-your-eyes answer: 22, meaning he shot 40.7% in those games, nearly identical to his season average for (in)accuracy.

Jordan said he was working with Clippers assistant coach Armond Hill, who advised his pupil to raise his feet and finish taking free throws while on his toes.

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers has sounded like a father addressing his young son in a rec-league game when instructing Jordan: Take the shots, do your best and don't worry about it.

"Can you imagine how much advice D.J. gets?" Rivers said. "The last thing he needs me to do is give him more advice. To me, just go and play."

Jordan said he had gotten used to getting fouled all over his upper body, though he acknowledged it could be frustrating.

"After a while, it kind of wears on you, running up and down and getting hit by somebody who's 280 pounds," Jordan said. "But at the same time, we won, and I was able to get some more free-throw practice."


When: 7 p.m. PST Saturday.

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 980, 1330.

Records: Kings 18-34 through Thursday, Clippers 36-19.

Record vs. Kings: 1-1.

Update: The always entertaining George Karl made his coaching debut with Sacramento on Friday during the Kings' game against Boston after becoming a midseason replacement for Tyrone Corbin. Karl has vowed to have the Kings play at a faster pace and with more intensity because, as the coach recently told reporters, he likes "the game to be created by five guys playing like there are six or seven."

Twitter: @latbbolch