It bores fans at Clippers games and infuriates those watching on television, regardless of their allegiance.
Intentionally fouling DeAndre Jordan might be slightly more tolerable if it actually worked, but the Portland Trail Blazers have had no such luck.
They’ve tried the tactic in the regular season and used it repeatedly in their playoff opener Sunday at Staples Center. The next time Portland has success with it will be the first.
It’s not so much that Jordan, a terrible free-throw shooter, has made appreciably more shots. The Trail Blazers simply haven’t made much of their ensuing possessions.
“When we get stops,” Jordan said after the Clippers’ 115-95 victory in Game 1, “the strategy doesn’t really work as much.”
Jordan made seven of 14 free throws while being intentionally fouled Sunday, a slight improvement over his 43% accuracy during the regular season.
Portland started grabbing Jordan away from the ball late in the first quarter and went to the strategy again while trailing by 19 points with a little more than five minutes left in the game. By the time the Trail Blazers stopped doing it two minutes later, they were down 20.
The seven Portland possessions following those intentional fouls netted a total of six points, not exactly the kind of efficiency that sparks comebacks. Clippers guard Austin Rivers said his teammates have developed a mantra whenever Jordan goes to the free-throw line time after time.
“We tell each other, ‘Listen, man, we’ve got to play even better defense,’” Rivers said. “If we get stops, they’ll have to stop doing it.”
Trail Blazers Coach Terry Stotts was unapologetic, saying he kept fouling Jordan to keep his team in the game. Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said he didn’t blame Stotts and noted the Clippers even briefly employed the strategy by intentionally fouling Portland’s Ed Davis late in the first quarter.
Portland’s use of intentional fouls was similarly fruitless in four regular-season games against the Clippers. The Trail Blazers hacked Jordan 26 times, with their ensuing possessions resulting in only 17 points after they missed 11 of 15 shots, including all six three-pointers, and turned the ball over four times.
Over the five matchups between the teams, including the playoffs, Jordan has made 22 of 48 free throws (45.8%) after being intentionally fouled and the Clippers have gained five points on the scoreboard.
Jordan has worked daily on his free throws at the practice facility, but his frustration during games can be palpable. He angrily swiped away Portland center Chris Kaman’s arms in the fourth quarter Sunday after Kaman had grabbed him.
“There will be days where it processes and he’s good with it and there will be days when it affects him,” Doc Rivers said. “He’s human.”
The Clippers did not make Jordan available to the media on the eve of Game 2 on Wednesday night at Staples Center. Intentional fouls might not be a talking point much longer after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in February that he was “increasingly of the view that we will be looking to make some sort of change in that rule this summer.”
Doc Rivers will have a say as a member of the league’s competition committee. He recently said his view aligned with that of the commissioner, meaning the days of clanked free throws and tediously long games might be soon ending.
“It’s going to happen this series, the next series, the series after that and the series after that,” Austin Rivers said. “It’s just one way people feel like they can slow us down temporarily, but if we’re getting stops, it actually helps us.”
Woodson granted permission
The Clippers have granted assistant coach Mike Woodson permission to speak with the Sacramento Kings about their coaching vacancy that was created last week by the firing of George Karl.
Woodson, 58, has a 315-365 record in nine seasons as a head coach with the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks.