PLAYA VISTA, Calif. – It’s no coincidence DeAndre Jordan’s free throw attempts are up the last three game.
The “hack-a-DJ” strategy has been in full effect from Clippers’ opponents the last three games, as opponents try to put the Clippers’ center at the free-throw line to chip away at a lead.
“Honestly, it helps me get my scoring average up if I’m making some,” Jordan joked. “No, but honestly, I don’t really think about it. The guys give me so much confidence when I go to the line that I try not to think about it as much.
“I obviously want to make them, but if I don’t and we go down and get a stop, the score hasn’t changed and we’re still up by the same amount of points. It’s Doc (Rivers)’ decision, whatever it may be.”
Rivers has changed up the strategy depending on the situation and how Jordan’s shooting. The last two games, though, Spencer Hawes has entered the game late in the fourth quarter.
“Every night it’ll be a decision,” Rivers said. “I think he handles it well when you take him out. I’ve left him in at times, too. It’s just one of those game-to-game things. He works on it, he knows it’s something that people are going to use, and I know going into every game that it’s a decision every night I’m probably going to have to make.”
It’s also a decision many coaches wish they didn’t have to make.
Rivers said a year ago there were serious discussions in the offseason about the Competition Committee amending intentional fouling rules, but those discussions subsided this year. Rivers is conflicted about where he stands on it.
“I don’t know where to go on it,” he said. “Honestly, I’m right in between. The basketball lifer in me believes we shouldn’t do anything. But everyone hates it. I mean, everyone hates it. So, I mean, I guess it’s part of strategy. It’s part of like intentional walking in baseball.
“But the aesthetics of the game, it does slow the game. It brought the game to a halt to say the least (against Cleveland). I don’t know…What I try to do is take out my team in it, but I probably lean more toward the basketball lifer than the other way.”
Rivers said he feels like the intentional foul approach is happening more this year and that it’s happening earlier in games, and he believes it’ll be a topic of conversation in the offseason. He said he’s heard a thousand solutions, but not many foolproof ones.
“I don’t think about it a lot because it hadn’t been real serious,” Rivers said. “Two years ago it was a serious conversation and I think it was a really close vote. This last year, it didn’t even come up.”
Whether or not it comes up after the season, it’s something the Clippers and Jordan know they’ll have to deal with for the foreseeable future.
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul said it’s not something they’re worried about with their star center.
“We’ve got the utmost confidence in DJ to shoot his free throws and make them and things like that,” Paul said. “We’ve just got to keep defending. What it does is it puts us in the bonus.”