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CLIPPERS FYI

Chris Kaman is taking it outside

Feeling more comfortable with his shot, he is averaging 22.6 points in the first five games.

November 05, 2009|Jim Peltz

What has gotten into Chris Kaman -- and will it stay there?

The Clippers' center has bolted from the gate to a level that has surprised many.

After six seasons in which he averaged 10.4 points a game -- including the last two when he was hampered with injuries -- Kaman is averaging 22.6 points a game through the first five games of this season.

That included 25 points in the win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, the Clippers' first victory of the season after opening with four losses.

The 7-foot Kaman, 27, also appears to be doing a better job of mixing his repertoire of shots, including left- and right-handed hook shots and fall-away jump shots.

So what accounts for the improvement? His willingness to take more outside shots as opposed to driving to the basket, according to his coach.

"He's got this great touch, but he was always very reluctant to shoot it," Mike Dunleavy said Wednesday after the team's practice. The Clippers next play the Golden State Warriors on Friday.

"This is something we've talked about for five years," Dunleavy said. "We're always on him, 'Shoot the ball. If you're open just shoot it.' His tendency has always been to put the ball on the floor and try to get closer and power his way in. But if that's not what's there, don't force the issue."

Kaman said that, so far this season, he's heeding the advice more often and getting more comfortable on outside shots, especially after building an indoor, full-court gym at his home in Grand Rapids, Mich., in the off-season.

"In the summer I worked a lot on my jump shot, both left- and right-handed hooks, so I knew that was going to be a big part of my game," Kaman said. "I studied film from the last six years, and have seen what my mistakes have been."

And what did he learn? "I just wasn't consistent enough [with my shots] and I'd be scared to take them the next game," he said.

Kaman, who is shooting 60% from the field compared with a career average of 48.8% entering the season, said he also feared being labeled a ball-hog if he shot too much.

"That's not what I'm about," he said. "I'm just trying to play the right way, do the right things and help my team win."

Expanded coverage

The Clippers entered an agreement with Los Angeles radio station KWKW-AM 1330 to broadcast 48 games in Spanish this season.

The station will broadcast 31 home games and 17 road games starting with the Clippers' home game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.

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james.peltz@latimes.com

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