What a long, strange trip to the free-throw line for
"That's crazy," Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. "I've never witnessed that or experienced that. For us to just maintain our composure … we just grinded it out."
All in all, Jordan made 14 of 34 free throws in the Clippers' 128-95 victory over Houston in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals.
He made only 10 of his first-half attempts as fans cheered him on successful tries and encouraged him after misses — "It's OK, DJ. We love you!" was the loud mantra from one spectator by the Clippers bench.
The strategy was sensible in one way — Jordan converted only 39.7% of his free throws in the regular season — but troubling in other ways because the stop-and-start rhythm seemed to bother Houston too.
The NBA competition committee will take a look at the concept during the off-season, not a moment too soon for some players. Perhaps even some from Houston.
"Me personally, I don't like it," Rockets guard
"Should they ban it?" Paul said. "No. It's part of the game."
But it undoubtedly crushed the flow, making the first half last a surprisingly long 84 minutes.
"There was no basketball going on," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said.
Said Jordan: "I didn't really know how many I was shooting. I was just trying to make as many as I could for our team and on the other end, just try to get as many stops as I could in a row."
O'Neal, a TNT analyst, thought the strategy failed because of Houston's problems in finding consistency.
But fellow TNT analyst
"In what way?" TNT host Ernie Johnson asked quizzically.
The Clippers "would have won by 50 if they'd made all their free throws," Barkley answered.
Big laughs from the TNT gang.
The Clippers could laugh as well with a 3-1 series lead. So, too, could Jordan.