Gordon Gets Going at the Line
Posted Jul 14 2008 12:44AM
Midway through the second quarter of Saturday's 81-66 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Gordon raced ahead of the pack on the fast break, glanced over his shoulder to check for trailers, then rose and dunked the ball so hard it ricocheted off his head and out-of-bounds over the corner of the Cox Pavilion's court.
The aggressiveness was typical of Gordon's play during the first two games of the 2008 Summer League, where he's averaging 19.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists, despite exiting during the third quarter of Saturday's game with a strained left hamstring. He's battled through a shooting slump (9-of-28 FGs, .321 FG%), fearlessly attacking the basket, utilizing his strong frame to earn frequent trips to the line. In two games, Gordon is already 16-of-21 at the charity stripe.
"That's one thing I always try to pride myself on: getting to the free throw line even if my shot's not falling," Gordon said. "I didn't take as many shots as I did yesterday; I started hitting more, I just got to the free-throw line even more than that."
Scoring has long been viewed as Gordon's forte, and now that the Clippers have added Baron Davis, the rookie will likely see the majority of his time playing off-the-ball. Thus far, Gordon's been getting reps at the two, with D-League draftee Mike Taylor serving as primary ball-handler.
The Clippers are confident Gordon will find his shot, and also that he'll be able to crack their guard rotation, though Cuttino Mobley will begin the season starting alongside Boom Dizzle. Coach Kim Hughes has been impressed by Gordon's seemingly inherent ability to draw fouls, and how it allows him to remain productive while struggling to shoot well.
"I think once he figures it out, he'll understand that he doesn't have to take the first available shot," Hughes said. "When he uses the picks a little bit more, we'll send the ball to him weak side and he won't have to shoot the ball so quickly. I think he's got a good feel for the game, I think he can break his own guy down one-on-one, and I think in transition he can be a monster."
One of three 2008 picks by the Clippers, Gordon (No. 7) rejoined former AAU teammate DeAndre Jordan, who dropped to No. 35 after one season at Texas A&M. Jordan said adjusting to the NBA life been tough at times for the duo, but they know they'll have to continue to work, showing up early and staying late to improve their games. He's glad to have his old running mate back alongside him in what has been a mutually beneficial relationship.
"He draws double teams, so I get open a lot," Jordan said. "And if I draw double teams, I'll kick it to him. It works both ways. If we continue to do that, we'll be successful."
While it's likely Gordon sits out Sunday's game against the Detroit Pistons -- the Clippers' third game in as many days -- barring setbacks it's likely he'll return for the Wednesday night contest against the Grizzlies, one that will see him square off with No. 3 pick O.J. Mayo. That will be the first real test of Gordon's defense, which has been strong against lesser competition thus far. If he continues to commit on that end of the floor, he'll be sure to earn big minutes once the regular season is underway.
"Eric's a good defender, he's a tough kid, and he takes on challenges, which will help," Hughes said. "If he guards, plays that way and defends his position, then he'll play. Most rookies don't do that, so it's up to him. If he comes in and realizes he's not going to get 20 shots a game like he did in college, then he'll be fine. We'll see."