Clippers aim for 5-0 start as they host Pistons

There might be some major intrigue when Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan take free throws.

Both forwards are showing a slight improvement in free-throw shooting heading into Saturday's game between the Detroit Pistons and the undefeated Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.

Drummond entered this season with a career free-throw percentage of 38 percent. He is 13-for-18 (72.2 percent) through Detroit's first five games, upping his career mark on foul shots to 38.4 percent.

"The sample is small but you can watch him shoot the free throws and it's for real," coach Stan Van Gundy said after Drummond made all three attempts from the line in Detroit's 111-107 win at New York last Saturday. "I've seen guys, right, they've been bad free-throw shooters and they go 6 for 10 but two of them bank in and the misses were really bad.

"Even the shots he's missed, so far in the preseason and stuff, everything is soft, everything is on the rim. There hasn't been anything close to a bad miss yet. Like, it's for real. He's going to shoot free throws well. I'm actually hoping somebody will start grabbing him now."

Jordan, who came into the league four seasons before Drummond in 2012, entered this season shooting 43 percent from the line but is up to 43.1 percent for his career by going 8 of 14 (57.1 percent) through the first four games.

Jordan's biggest contribution pertains to him helping anchor a defense allowing a league-best 91.8 points and posting a 94.8 defensive rating.

"I think they are in tune. They want to play 'D', which is nice," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "I think they all are on the same page."

Besides the intrigue at the foul line, the Drummond-Jordan matchup pits two of the league's top rebounders. Jordan leads the league with 18.3 rebounds per game and Drummond is fourth at 13.2 per game.

Last season, Drummond and Jordan were tied for second at 13.8 rebounds per game. Hassan Whiteside won the rebounding title last season but Drummond won it in 2015-16 and Jordan was the league's top rebounder in the previous two seasons.

Jordan's rebounding is among the reasons the Clippers are 4-0 for the fourth time in the Los Angeles era and fifth time in franchise history. The Clippers are trying to get to 5-0 for the first time since the 1985-86 season after Blake Griffin's buzzer-beater capped a 104-103 win at Portland Thursday.

"Great, great win," Rivers said. "We didn't play well. The first half was great. The second half we didn't move the ball."

Griffin is also among the reasons the Clippers are succeeding after trading Chris Paul to Houston in the offseason. He scored 25 points Thursday and is averaging 26.3 points and shooting 53.6 percent after those numbers were 21.6 and 49.3 percent in 61 games last season.

Detroit is 3-2 after getting a 122-101 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday when it held a 24-0 edge in fast-break points. Drummond totaled 15 points and 15 rebounds while Tobias Harris continued his torrid start by tying a career-high 34 points, highlighted by six 3-pointers.

Harris is averaging 23.6 points per game on 52.2 percent shooting and 46.9 percent from 3-point range. Last season, Harris averaged 16.1 points, shot 48.1 percent and 34.7 percent from behind the arc.

"He's shooting the wide-open three, he's playing a lot more aggressive, he's always in the right spots on the floor," Drummond said. "It's good to see him playing so well."

The Pistons have faltered in games following their first two wins. They followed up a 12-point at Charlotte with a four-point loss in Washington and then scoring 86 points in a loss to Philadelphia after last week's win in New York.

Drummond and Jordan are facing each other for the 10th time and the Clippers are 8-1 in those games.

In their head-to-head matchups, Jordan is averaging 9.8 points and 13.1 rebounds on 71.9 percent shooting. Drummond is averaging 15.8 points and 12.3 rebounds on 54.8 percent from the field.

In those games, Drummond is a 50.0 percent foul shooter (28-for-56) while Jordan is a 30.0 percent foul shooter (6-for-20).

Overall the Clippers have dominated the series of late by winning 13 of the last 15 meetings, including six straight at home. Last season, the Clippers coasted to a 114-82 home win on Nov. 7 and Detroit posted a 108-97 win over two weeks later.
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