Until the day comes in which DeAndre Jordan becomes a good free throw shooter, sending him to the line will remain a valid, effective strategy. It still didn’t help the San Antonio Spurs to avoid another loss, losing 119-115 to the Los Angeles Clippers thanks to a big day from their center, backup up by Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford from the outside.
Jordan led the Clippers with 26 points and 18 rebounds, including a series of what everyone calls “thunks” but was very frustrated with the Spurs hacking him constantly to send him to the line. Jordan became the first player to have 25 free throw attempts in consecutive games since Wilt Chamberlain during the 1961-62 season. He finished with 10-of-28 from the line, on his own going to the line more than the entire Spurs team. The Clippers shot 52 times from the free throw line, hitting 51.9% of them.
The ending wasn’t the way the Spurs had hoped it’d go. Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford made the breakthrough with two big shots that made all of Jordan’s misses from the line redundant. First it was Crawford with a big, tough 3-pointer to put the Clippers up by four points (115-111), although the Spurs had a 3-pointer of their own to counter with that. And then Paul hit a tough jumper with great defense on him with 8 seconds left in the game to finish things off.
February is coming to an end, and the Spurs need to start taking off. They’re going to make the playoffs, there’s nothing to worry about here. But not having home court advantage for two or three series means that a third consecutive NBA finals is going to be difficult to make happen again. The Clippers are more or less in the same spot, only they’re without Blake Griffin, while the Spurs seem to be at their healthiest at the moment, although with Kawhi Leonard shooting 1-of-11 from the field (4 points) it’s going to take more time before they recapture the magic of last May and June.