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Clippers focus on free throws

Guard Eric Gordon, who shot 85% from the line last season, was three for seven in a two-point loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. The team was 15 for 27.

October 30, 2009|Lisa Dillman

Almost, without fail, Eric Gordon would wander over to the same basket after practice and start shooting free throws.

It happened to be the basket closest to the exercise machines and weights in the back of the Clippers' training facility in Playa Vista and a few feet away from where Coach Mike Dunleavy usually conducts his post-practice media session.

Gordon camped out elsewhere Thursday.

Coincidence, perhaps? Or was it something to do with Gordon, a seasoned free-throw shooter who shot 85% from the line last season, suddenly going cold.

Gordon, who went three for seven from the line in the Clippers' two-point loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, was hardly the only chilled Clipper. Veteran Marcus Camby was three for six and the Clippers were 15 for 27, and shot better from the field, in fact.

All the Clippers (0-2) were hard at work Thursday, as promised by Rasual Butler, on the shortcoming, spending extra time at the line. Chris Kaman was offering advice and instruction to DeAndre Jordan, who struggled mightily last season in that department.

As for Gordon, the change of basket venue wasn't purposeful. Then again, the second-year shooting guard really didn't seem sure.

"It was kind of weird me missing all those free throws," said Gordon, who also missed a wide-open layup, a rarity. "I never probably missed that many, probably ever.

"That was something different. I tried to switch it up."

Actually, Gordon was right, in terms of his pro career. In his rookie season, his worst free-throw shooting night was when he missed three, at Denver on March 14. And that happened only once all season.

Gordon, who had 16 points on Wednesday against the Suns, vowed it would be different from the free-throw line.

He added that he would also carve out a better solution next time with the game on the line instead of his desperation heave in the waning seconds against the Suns.

"I'm not going to miss hardly any more [free throws] throughout the rest of the season," Gordon said. "My thing is to get a lot of free-throw attempts a game where there's like six to seven free throws a game. I just don't want to miss any."

Can free-throw woes be contagious?

"It seems like that," Camby said. "I mean, I thought last night I started if off. I was missing free throws and you get great shooters like Rasual and Eric missing technical free throws, you can't help but think that sometimes."

Kaman offered a solution.

"Chris [Kaman] was joking last night that he was going to shoot the next technical," Camby said. "He's going to see if Mike [Dunleavy] lets him do it.

"There's been some nights I was 0 for 6 . . . sometimes you've got to chalk it up to being one of those nights and when you have nights like that, you have to get back in the gym the next day and work out the kinks."

Said Dunleavy: "Shooting is all mental. It's a confidence thing."

Dunleavy remembered his rookie season as a player when court time was sporadic and he stressed out when he went to the line.

"I would find myself basically praying that I would make my first one," he said. "All of a sudden, one day I said to myself, 'What is wrong with you?' You are a great free-throw shooter. You always shot over 80% your whole life . . . and, by the way, God has a few more things to worry about than your free-throw shooting. . . .

" 'Up and in. Up and in.' If you say it to yourself, you visualize the ball going up and in. Good arch, ball going in. A couple of good positive thoughts. My percentage was much greater."


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