LOS ANGELES — Sam Dekker’s shot looked good from the perimeter, especially from beyond the 3-point line. His stroke appeared pure. He caught it and shot it with his feet beneath him. Technically, everything looked fine. The results were another story.
Dekker went into Friday’s game against the Lakers shooting 41.6 percent overall (52 of 125), but only 14.6 percent from 3-point range (7 of 48). Instead of forcing the issue, instead of waging a losing battle, instead cursing his fate, he changed his game.
The Clippers’ coaching staff encourages everyone on the roster to shoot 3s, with the possible exception of 6-foot-11 center DeAndre Jordan. They worked with Dekker to play more to his strengths recently, and the results have been hard to miss.
Instead of planting his feet on the perimeter, Dekker has moved his game closer to the basket, driving more frequently with the ball in his hands or cutting without it. He’s created more scoring opportunities for himself and for his teammates.
Dekker shot 50 percent or better in his most recent five games before the Clippers faced the Lakers at Staples Center. He attempted only five shots from behind the 3-point arc, missing them all. But he has improved his playmaking and rebounding recently.
“I’ve found a niche,” said Dekker, a backup forward.
What’s ailed his jump shot remains a mystery, though.
“It’s frustrating as a player, especially for a guy who’s shot well his whole life, to start like this,” he said. “It’s weird because in practice and in my workouts I’m making every shot. Just unlucky, I guess. You’ve got to keep fighting, keep pushing and get involved in other ways. I’ve found the less time I’ve played on the perimeter the better our team has been and I have been.”
So, Dekker has played a more downhill game in the parlance of the day, driving to the basket.
“If I can put pressure on the defenses in some way, I’ve got to do it,” he said. “Getting downhill, getting…