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CLIPPERS FYI

Clippers' Eric Gordon makes free-throw line top destination

The guard says his No. 1 goal is to be one of the top 10 players in the league in getting to the line this season.

October 03, 2009|Lisa Dillman

Points, assists . . . Twitter followers.

Turns out Eric Gordon's main priority for his second run through an NBA season has more to do with a certain line, and by extension, a certain number. As for number of followers, the Clippers' shooting guard will leave the social networking to buddies DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin.

"The No. 1 thing I want to do is get to the free-throw line," Gordon said this week during training camp. "That's the No. 1 thing this year, to be one of the top 10 guys in the league in getting there. That'll help spread out my game. That opens up a lot of things for me, whether it's three-point shots or getting to the basket.

"Last year, I started getting more respect toward the end of the season."

Gordon, who finished fifth in the league's rookie-of-the-year voting last season, was a fixture in the Clippers' starting lineup from late November on.

Respect came later.

"The funny thing, before All-Star break I don't remember getting to the free-throw line that much and then after, I guarantee you, I was going there six to seven times a game," he said. "It's all about getting noticed. It's just a bad year, your rookie year."

He did get to the free-throw line six times in consecutive games at Philadelphia and New Jersey in late November.

When Gordon scored his career-high 41 points -- a Clippers rookie record -- he got to the line 14 times in that game against Oklahoma City on Jan. 23.

But clearly the biggest sign of respect came from a certain Staples Center fixture named Kobe. Kobe Bryant and Gordon have the same agent, and Gordon says they have become "really good friends."

Naturally, that did not preclude Bryant from telling Gordon in no uncertain terms that he was not going to get to take a last-second shot in the Lakers' and Clippers' final meeting of the season in April.

"Oh man, he told me, 'I guarantee they aren't going to call no fouls for you,' " Gordon said. "When he grabbed me he said, 'You cannot get the ball.' We ran a good play. He knew they weren't going to call it."

Gordon was smiling and shaking his head as he retold the story.

There are lessons from Bryant, and the continual teaching process unfolding at training camp in Playa Vista for Gordon. Friday's session included a turn at point guard, and Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said it was possible Gordon will play some in that position in the preseason, depending on how long Sebastian Telfair (foot) will be out of action.

"It's something that we always are exploring and are trying to get Eric to grow in that direction because he's so good off the dribble, so explosive he gets by people," Dunleavy said.

"But the part of the position that is toughest for people to play is, how do you involve your teammates and make plays for other guys? That's the key component to the decision-making part of being a point guard."

It is, to use a tired phrase, a work in progress for a multi-tasking guard in training.

Updates

Griffin (left knee) was able to do a bit more at practice but is still being held out of contact in scrimmages. Dunleavy said that he won't play in the team's first exhibition game on Sunday at Oakland against Golden State.

Presumably, Griffin would need a few days of practice, and contact, before he appears in an exhibition. The Clippers' second exhibition game is on Friday against Portland at Staples Center.

Clipper individual game tickets go on sale today, starting at 10 a.m. They can be purchased online at clippers.com, by calling 800-4NBA-TIX or at Staples Center and Ticketmaster outlets.

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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