Eric Gordon Doing His Part for Struggling Clippers
Guys to have averaged 20 points for the Clippers include Corey Maggette, Derek Smith, Ron Harper and Charles Smith (the University of Pittsburgh one). None ever played in an NBA All-Star Game.
Still, that guard Eric Gordon is averaging 21.1 points so far has to be regarded as impressive. At 1-6, the Clippers' ship might already have taken a few torpedoes in the starboard side, but Gordon is doing what he can to keep his guys somewhat afloat with point guard Baron Davis out due to a sore left knee and center Chris Kaman off to a shaky start.
Gordon had 27 points in Saturday's 109-107 double-overtime loss at Utah. He left late in the game with a shoulder stinger but is hopeful he won't miss any games.
"Oh yeah, for sure,'' Gordon, who averaged 16.9 points last season and 16.4 in his first two seasons, said about whether he can average 20 for the season. "Because of the way I attack the basket and get to the free-throw line. And I can mix it in with the three.''
Gordon actually is shooting just 15.8 percent (6-of-38) from three-point range, well below his career mark of 38.0 entering the season. So perhaps the 6-foot-3 shooting guard, hitting a very impressive 64.4 percent on two-pointers, will be scoring even more once he finds his range from outside.
"Even when I come back, we're still going to demand (Gordon) scores 20 points on this team,'' said Davis, Gordon's usual backcourt mate and a 16.7-point career scorer, who has missed the past four games and expects to be out two more. "When I come back, I hope to contribute more to him getting easier looks. But the way he's been attacking the basket, we just want to encourage him to continue to do that. He's a phenomenal shooter, and just when I get back I'll try to get guys more shots and more open opportunities.''
Davis said a summer stint with Team USA paid huge dividends in Gordon coming back this fall a more confident and better player. Gordon, with an 8.6 average, was the fourth-leading scorer on the outfit that took gold at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
When Gordon showed up for Team USA's camp in Las Vegas in July, he was mostly an afterthought when it came to making the team. But Gordon proved too good to be cut, and became one of the top players off the bench for the Americans.
"It gives you more confidence just playing against the best every day,'' Gordon said of his summer wearing Team USA red, white and blue as opposed to the Clippers' variety. "It helps you have good habits in whatever you need to do.''
Gordon is hoping those habits eventually lead to a berth on the 2012 Olympic team in London.
"Oh yeah, for sure,'' Gordon said. "That's definitely my goal, and I'm looking forward to see what's going to happen there.''
For now, Gordon is hoping his scoring can translate into some more Clippers' victories as the team continues to adjust to first-year coach Vinny Del Negro. At least Del Negro's more wide-open offense seems to agree with Gordon, who turns 22 on Christmas Day.
"The way we play offense is a little different obviously than what he's experienced in the past,'' Kaman said of Gordon. "The court's a lot more open, a lot more flowing as far as running up and down, which is one of his strengths. So he gets a lot of space to create ... He's capable of being a 20- to 25-point-a-game scorer. I definitely see that coming from him.''
The scoring from Gordon and from rookie power forward Blake Griffin, averaging 18.1, is helping make up for what the Clippers used to get from Kaman and Davis, who averaged just 10.3 points in three games before being shelved. Kaman is averaging just 12.7 points on 36.4-percent shooting after putting up 18.5 as an All-Star last season.
Gordon is getting a lot more opportunities. He's averaging 15.9 field-goal attempts per game as opposed to 12.7 last season.
"I think he can,'' Del Negro said Gordon being a 20-point scorer this season. "There's no question about it. We've got to play at the right tempo for that to happen ... Eric is very powerful, very fast. Once he gets by you, he's strong. He can get to the free-throw line and get some easy points there. He's just got to keep on working on his game, and we've got to put him in areas where he feels comfortable and is effective.''
If so, Gordon might join that not-exactly-illustrious list of Los Angeles Clippers' 20-point scorers. OK, the list does include Elton Brand, Danny Manning and Marques Johnson, who all at least were All-Stars.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson