No shot is too good to pass up for Kaman

Dillman is a Times staff writer.

The thought wasn’t even fully framed before Chris Kaman stepped in and assisted, finishing it off.

He knew exactly where the line of questioning was headed.

“I should have shot,” he said. “Exactly.”

This was Saturday night at New Jersey, one day after the Clippers had lost by a point at Philadelphia, and Kaman was talking about having gotten a good look in the final stages of that game, passing up an open 13-footer.


“For me, I thought, ‘Hey, maybe I shot enough shots from there,’ ” Kaman said. “I don’t know what it is. It’s something in my head, kind of playing games with myself. I need to get out of it. I’ve got to get rid of it and shoot the basketball.”

The mind can be a wildly unpredictable thing. Kaman’s unpredictability is . . . well, almost predictable.

He is averaging 17.6 points in his last five games, which included a 25-point performance at Oklahoma City in the opener of the Clippers’ three-game trip. In 13 games, he is averaging 14.5 points and 10.2 rebounds. His field-goal shooting percentage is a team-leading 58%.

A coach ordering someone to shoot more often is not exactly something you hear with great frequency in the NBA. Listen closely because you may not hear it again.

“You just never know when something is going to kick in,” Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said after the game in Oklahoma City. “We’ve been pounding it into his head, or trying to, the last year-plus. We’ve worked on him in the pick-and-roll game. He’s a great free-throw shooter -- 78% last year.

“But we couldn’t get him to shoot it. How many guys do you have a hard time trying to get them to shoot the ball?

“He’s got a nice touch. It’s all about him slowing down his game. Just taking what’s there. He tries to over-think it too many times, tries to pass balls to guys. Tries to be unselfish.”

It all sounds so simple. Kaman would be the first to agree with his coach.

But this season of massive change has perhaps been more pronounced for Kaman than for almost any other Clipper. He’s been trying to develop chemistry with Marcus Camby and also adjusting to Baron Davis, a point guard not in the typical Clippers mold.

Dunleavy said Kaman is getting better at it on both fronts.

“It’s just hard to play,” Kaman said. “I’m not used to this style of basketball. My last five years have been slow-down point guards, playing half-court. The ball goes inside out. It’s just different. It’s something I’ve got to get used to. It’s an adjustment for me.

“That’s true, I’m getting a lot of good looks, just trying to be patient. Sometimes I make mistakes. I’m human.

“Sometimes the game’s so fast and you try to play intelligently. You think too much sometimes, I think that’s what happens, and you make the wrong decision.”



Clippers tonight

New Orleans, 7:30

Site -- Staples Center.

TV -- Fox Sports West.

Radio -- 710.

Records -- Clippers 2-11, Hornets, 7-5.

Record vs. Hornets (2007-08) -- 0-4.

Update -- Well, the Hornets and Clippers have one thing in common: They can both beat the Thunder. One of the Clippers’ two wins this season came on Wednesday at Oklahoma City, and New Orleans is coming off victories against the Thunder in its last two games. The Clippers are off to their worst start since the lockout-shortened 1999 season, in which they lost their first 17 games and started off 2-22 and 3-24. In the two games since the Clippers traded shooting guard Cuttino Mobley to the Knicks, guards Ricky Davis and Eric Gordon are a combined five for 24 from the field. Davis shot one for nine against the Nets on Saturday.

-- Lisa Dillman