POSTGAME REPORT: CLIPPERS 111, BUCKS 85
MILWAUKEE–It was perhaps one of the more resounding victories in recent Clippers history, and as it turned out, the team’s 111-85 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center Saturday night was historic in its own right.
For the first time since the 1974-75 season, when the Buffalo Braves won 11 games in a row, the Clippers (17-6) are on a nine-game winning streak. Their 17 wins in 23 games marks the best start in franchise history. And it was the largest-ever margin of victory against the Bucks (12-10) on the road.
“We caught them on a good night on a back-to-back,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “And we were able to practice yesterday. We just had to really focus in on the penetration that [Monta] Ellis and [Brandon] Jennings get so much. We were fortunate they missed some shots early. We got out on the break and were able to convert and take control of the game.”
The starters got the Clippers off to a 28-15 start and the team effectively never looked in its rearview. The first 12 minutes was not as much about the offense putting up 28 points with all five members of the lineup making at least one field goal, but about starting, as everyone from Del Negro to Blake Griffin has said it needs to, with energy on the defensive end.
“I thought we played well tonight. We forced a lot of turnovers and we limited them to one shot a lot of the times,” said DeAndre Jordan, who scored eight of his 15 points in the opening frame. “I think we did a pretty good job loading up and corralling guys tonight.”
The Clippers starters set the tone by holding the Bucks to just five baskets on 18 shots (27.8%), converted four turnovers into seven points, and prevented Milwaukee from getting into the paint on penetration from Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings; something Del Negro said was a must during his pregame meeting with the media.
“I think Ellis and Jennings are very difficult covers,” Del Negro said. “But I think Chris [Paul], [Eric Bledsoe] and Willie [Green] and Matt [Barnes] did a really good job there. I thought our bigs did a very good job taking some of their penetration away because they’re very good off the dribble.”
Jordan and Griffin were the most prominent figures in the Clippers’ convincing opening quarter. Jordan was active around the rim, had four rebounds (two offensive), and threw down a fast-break dunk where he outran two Bucks defenders, caught a long outlet pass from Paul, took one dribble and dunked it with his right hand.
“I thought [Jordan] had great energy tonight,” Del Negro said. “I thought he made a tremendous pass. He was rebounding. He was active. Blake as well. I thought they did a really good job of kind of feeding off each other, but they controlled a lot of the game for us and got us off to a good start and they were kind of the catalyst to get us going.”
After the Bucks, trailing by 20 out of intermission, opened up with a 5-0 spurt, Griffin and Jordan helped the Clippers regain control with three dunks over a 1:40 span. Griffin caught an alley-oop from Paul and then Griffin and Jordan exchanged assists to one another, including a bounce pass by Jordan out of the post to a cutting Griffin.
“We had great buddy ball in the post,” Jordan said. “There’s no reason why Blake and I can’t do that every game.”
Matt Barnes continued his string of efficient scoring, essentially doing his damage slicing to the basket for layups and dunks. He finished with a season-high 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting (0-for-2 from 3-point range), four assists, three rebounds and two steals off the bench.
“Matt Barnes came in and played great,” small forward Caron Butler said.
In the last three games, Barnes is shooting 66.7% (20-for-30), 41.7% from 3-point range, and averaging 18.0 points per game.
Jordan had 15 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double this year, while Griffin put in 18 points and 11 rebounds for double-double number 10. The duo combined to go 14-for-22 from the floor with 10 of the field goals coming on dunks. Paul also chipped in his tenth double-double for the Clippers, tallying 10 points and 13 assists. It is the second time this season that Paul, Griffin and Jordan have each compiled a double-double in the same game. They last did it Nov. 7 in a home win over the Spurs.
Marquis Daniels. Starting in place of injured forward Mike Dunleavy, the veteran Daniels had a team-high 16 points with five rebounds.
Hot: Lamar Odom. Entering the game Odom had missed 20 of his 22 3-point attempts, but late in the fourth quarter he knocked down three perimeter jumpers including two from distance, sparking a joyous reaction from the bench. Odom went 4-of-5 for the game and had a season-high 10 points.
“It was good to see Lamar out there knocking down some shots,” Butler said.
Not: The Bucks. They looked like a team playing the second night of a back-to-back, shooting 36.1% (30-for-83), including just 7-for-27 from Jennings and Ellis combined. The Clippers outscored Milwaukee, 66-28, in the paint and, 31-8, in transition. The points in the paint and fast-break points by the Clippers were season highs for a Bucks opponent.
Paul: “He’s in the best shape out of anybody on the team. He showed that when we had our preseason conditioning tests. I’m serious. I don’t know Matt’s age, but he’s in crazy shape. He’s just constantly moving and running and that opens up other things for everybody else.”
Odom: “That’s the one thing you don’t want to see. You don’t want to get dunked on. That’s deflating. He’s pretty good at that. And it’s his motor. I’ll give you an example: There was one play he got the rebound and kicked it out and ran through two Bucks, shredded through them, and went for the alley-oop. It’s intimidating.”
Butler: “Defense creates a lot of offense for us and once we get out in transition we’re fun to watch. With the athletes that we have on this team, they get to dunking and the arena noise, it’s deflating for the other teams sometimes. We’ve made some great runs and we pride ourselves on getting stops and we did a great job doing that tonight.”
On the Clippers and where the game was lost:
Bucks head coach Scott Skiles: “That’s a very talented team. If you’re going to compete with them, you’re going to need a superior effort, and we had an inferior effort. It’s that simple. We were flat-footed almost the whole night. They had 66 points in the paint. Tough to win when that happens. We got caught ball-watching a bunch of times. Just in general, not a very competitive effort.”
Notes: Barnes’ assist to Ryan Hollins for a layup with 1:36 remaining in the fourth quarter was the 1,000th of his career… The Clippers are 13-0 when holding opponents to 43.0% shooting or worse… Jamal Crawford had five assists, giving him 18 in the last three games… The Clippers assisted on 33 of their 44 field goals...
Butler, playing 30 miles north of his hometown of Racine, Wisconsin, had more than 200 friends and family in attendance.
“It was unbelievable,” Butler said of his homecoming. “I haven’t had the best of luck here the last couple of times, so I was just trying to make it out alive honestly. I didn’t want to do too much and my teammates obviously knew the situation.”
Butler had sustained an injury in his three previous outings in Milwaukee, including a torn patellar tendon in 2011 while he was with the Mavericks. This time he finished the game unscathed, scoring eight points with two rebounds and two assists in 22:14.