LOS ANGELES — DeAndre Jordan knew this was coming. It’s happened before, and it’s undoubtedly going to happen again.
Knowing his lack of consistency at the free-throw line, the Toronto Raptors went to a Hack-a-DJ strategy Friday night at Staples Center, fouling the Clippers center to try and get back in a game they were losing by 22 points in the third quarter.
It got the Clippers out of their rhythm, but it didn’t take them out of their game entirely. Jordan missed some foul shots, but he also made enough to discourage the Raptors in a 118-105 Clippers victory.
"They (intentionally) walk people in baseball, and that’s no fun to watch," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
Neither was this. What was looking like a runaway win turned into a tedious third quarter that lasted 41 minutes. Jordan made 8 of 16 free throws in the period — all in a span of less than three minutes — and finished with a career-high 22 fouls shots.
They kind of junked up the game. It kind of broke up our rhythm a little bit.
-- Clippers guard Jamal Crawford
It was a game in which Blake Griffin scored 36 points, marking his third consecutive game of 35 or more. The last Clippers player to accomplish that kind of stretch was World B. Free in 1979 when the team was located in San Diego.
It was also a game in which the Clippers broke their two-game losing streak. They haven’t lost more than two in a row the entire season.
But Toronto’s plan to disrupt the Clippers’ pace and get Jordan to the line was the primary topic afterward — and it’s clearly something they’ll see in playoffs because Rivers has said he prefers to keep his best rebounder on the floor late in games.
He stuck with Jordan, even though the Raptors fouled him every time he touched the ball.
"I knew they were going to do it," Jordan said, "but I didn’t know that it was going to last 45 minutes."
The Raptors got themselves back in the game, cutting their deficit to nine at the end of the third quarter, but the Clippers stretched it to 15 thanks to Willie Green, who scored 10 points in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the fourth.
"I was happy for D.J.," Rivers said. "You miss a couple early and that’s tough. He hung in there and started making a couple. After you shoot six, eight, 10, you get in a pretty good rhythm."
Maybe that’s what happened. Jordan made five of six at one point, his last two coming with 3:48 in the period that put the Clippers ahead by 18.
I knew they were going to do it, but I didn’t know that it was going to last 45 minutes
-- DeAndre Jordan on Toronto's 'Hack-a-DJ' strategy Friday night.
Then the Raptors gave up.
"They kind of junked up the game," Jamal Crawford said. "It kind of broke up our rhythm a little bit."
It also stalled the game and drew boos from fans.
"I feel like it’s boring for the fans to watch, but it’s a good strategy," Jordan said. "If you feel like guys can’t make the free throws and your team’s is going to come down and score, then why not? But if I’m making one out of two or two out of two and we come down and get stops, then it’s good for us."
And it was. Jordan finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds, Crawford had 21, and the Clippers shot a season-high 54 free throws.
It wasn’t much fun to watch, but the Clippers were content with the result.