Five Takeaways – Milwaukee Bucks 112, Clippers 101

Five Takeaways – Milwaukee Bucks 112, Clippers 101

MILWAUKEE – The Clippers dropped their second straight game Friday night in Milwaukee, falling 112-101 to the Bucks. The Clippers dug themselves an early hole with nine first quarter turnovers, finishing with a season-high 23 miscues that lead to 41 Milwaukee points. A spirited 3rd quarter comeback spurred on by Chris Paul (21 points, five assists) brought Los Angeles within three points, but the Bucks were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo (24 points, eight assists, five rebounds) and Greg Monroe (24 points, five rebounds) and managed to hold off the Clippers late charge. LA is now 1-4 since the All-Star Break, and will look for a victory Saturday night in Chicago to get back on track.

“We have to get out of this rut because we are in one right now,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said.

Here are five takeaways from the Clippers loss in Milwaukee.

1) Turnovers, Turnovers and More Turnovers – The Clippers turned the ball over a season-high 23 times, leading directly to 41 Milwaukee points, and allowing the efficient Bucks to attempt 16 more field goals than the Clippers. LA shot 56.3% from the field (36-of-64), but it didn’t matter because Milwaukee went 44-of-80 (55.0%) on the evening.

“It was devastating,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said about the turnovers.

The Clippers started off with nine turnovers in the first quarter, and then after a furious rally in the 3rdquarter that cut the deficit to three points, were undone by miscues on two straight possessions in the final minute of the 3rd that stretched the Milwaukee lead back to nine points.

“That is unlike us and it started with me,” Clippers guard Chris Paul said. Paul finished with four turnovers.

“That killed our momentum,” Rivers said. “You work so hard to get back into the game, but then we turned the ball over and you come back into the fourth quarter down and that is tough. We turned the ball over too much and if you do that you are going to lose the game, especially against a team that converts the way they did.”

2) Too Much Milwaukee – Bucks All-Star Giannis Anteokounmpo came into the game averaging 23.2 points, and he showed the Clippers why he is one of the bright young stars in the league, scoring 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting and grabbing eight boards with five assists. But it was the other Bucks who proved dangerous, as Khris Middleton added 19 points and nine assists and Greg Monroe came off the bench to provide 24 points (11-of-15 FG) and grab five boards.

“Giannis had a good game tonight,” Rivers said. “But it wasn’t just him, a lot of guys had great games for them tonight and made it difficult.”

“I thought the guys did a great job,” Bucks head coach Jason Kidd said. “I think it started yesterday in practice. I thought their intent, their energy, their focus and the carry over to tonight was very good.”

3) Third Quarter Run – The Clippers made a game of it in the third quarter, charging out of halftime and holding Milwaukee scoreless for nearly five minutes as they sliced a 66-47 lead to 66-56. A 26-11 Clippers run capped by a Chris Paul 3-pointer with 1:41 left in the quarter brought LA to 77-74. It was the closest the Clippers would get, however, as Paul exited the game and the Bucks closed the quarter on a 8-2 run to push the lead back to 85-76 to start the 4th quarter, with the Clippers only points in that span coming on two Griffin free throws.

“In the second half, I thought our starters played the right way,” Rivers said. “They played amazing and cut it to three. I did love the spirit of the starters to start the second half. Literally we took Chris out and that changed the game. We had two or three turnovers in a row and then we were pressing.”

4) Bench Struggles – It was a tough outing for the Clippers bench unit, as they were outscored by a total of 50-29 and contributed 10 of the team’s 23 total turnovers. Top reserves Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford could not find the answer against the Bucks, as the offense struggled to find a rhythm for the second straight game.

“The second unit was horrendous,” Rivers said. “They have to be better.”

5) Home Sweet Milwaukee – Despite the loss, several Clippers were happy to be back in Milwaukee, with rookie Diamond Stone enjoying a homecoming. A Wisconsin native, Stone led Dominican High School in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin to four-straight WIAA Division 4 State Championships. Stone had over 25 friends and family members at the game to welcome the 2015 Wisconsin Mr. Basketball back to his home state.

Doc Rivers also enjoyed his time back in Milwaukee, at least before the game. The former Marquette University star returned to campus earlier in the day and addressed the Marquette men’s basketball team before their upcoming game.

“It’s always great being back on campus,” Rivers said. “It is amazing to come back and see what they are doing and the great things they are doing with the program. I keep in touch and watch as many games as I came.”

Rivers played at Marquette from 1980-1983 and had his number retired by the school. An All-American at Marquette in 1982, Rivers ranks third all-time in school history in steals, sixth in assists and 23rd in scoring.

Notes: Griffin continued his stat-stuffing play, nearly getting a triple-double as he added nine rebounds and eight assists to go with 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting….Chris Paul left the game holding his thumb in the third quarter after getting hit on it. Paul said he was fine after the game. “I’ve had that injury,” Rivers said. “If you get right on it, it hurts and it hurts for awhile. That shows you how tough he is.”…Paul went 5-of-6 from 3-point land…Griffin and Bucks center Greg Monroe received double-technicals for exchanging shoves and words with 4:34 left in the game…The Clippers were forced to call time out with 6:57 left in the 3rd quarter after Griffin swung for a block and hit JJ Redick in the head. Redick was shaken up but returned to the game and finished with 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting.