The Milwaukee Bucks' concluded first West Coast road trip of the season with another strong effort on Saturday evening, but after the team lost 106-102 by the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers, a team they upset a week ago at home. The Bucks' bench outscored the Clippers' 59-23 (16 each from Jared Dudley and Jerryd Bayless), but strong second-half performances from Chris Paul (27 points, nine assists), Blake Griffin (24 points, eight assists, six rebounds), and Jamal Crawford (17 points) helped LA tie the season series up and avoid a sweep.
Giannis Antetokounmpo played a game-high 37 minutes, and ended up with 18 points (8/12 fg), nine rebounds and six dimes. A really strong performance from a 20-year-old who's still battling an ankle injury. The Bucks finished up their four-game road trip with a solid 2-2 record, and they'll now return home as they get set to face Charlotte on Tuesday.
With Milwaukee short-handed up front -- and Los Angeles attacking rookie Johnny O'Bryant early and often with Blake Griffin -- the Clippers were able to start off strong shooting the basketball courtesy of former Buck J.J. Redick, who hit three straight shots to start the game before ending the first quarter with 11 points (he finished the game with 23). The Clippers shot 62.5 percent from three after one, and led 28-24. Griffin and O'Bryant both picked up early fouls (two each) before the quarter was done.
The Bucks controlled the paint for the most part early on, throwing bodies at Griffin (three fouls at the end of the half) pretty much every single time he touched the ball in the 10 minutes he was on the court. Chris Paul still managed to score 13 points (4-of-8 from the field) to lead all scorers at the end of the half on top of dishing out five assists, but Jason Kidd set up a really good game plan once again and limited him on a solid amount of possessions. The Bucks used their length well, and stunted a second defender on Paul often. Another really positive note from the early portion of the game: Milwaukee scored 17 points off of 10 Los Angeles turnovers, compared to the Clippers who only scored six off of 10 Bucks turnovers.
This game featured 18 lead changes and was a tight one all the way down to the end. Crawford came alive by scoring 10 points in the second half, with seven of his 10 in the fourth quarter. Griffin scored 16 points down the stretch while pulling five boards and recording seven assists. Milwaukee led by as many as nine in the first half and played from the front for most of the third quarter as well, before the game turned into a seesaw affair down the stretch.
After missing three straight jump shots, a beautiful pass from Giannis to Brandon Knight in the corner with the shot clock expiring resulted in a clutch three pointer to tie the ballgame at 102. A foul by Khris Middleton on Paul with 1:12 left allowed the Clippers to go up by a pair, 104-102 with about a minute left. Knight then took a pull-up jump shot off isolation with about eight seconds left on the shot clock that rattled out. The Bucks then couldn't get the stop they needed on the other end, as Griffin scored on a put back from a Paul missed jump shot to make the game 106-102 with five seconds remaining.
- Dudley finished the game with 16 points (7-of-12 from the field) against his former team. It's his fourth double-digit scoring game of the season, and third in the last four games.
- After scoring a season-high 26 against the Bucks a week ago, Matt Barnes was completely M.I.A. and didn't score a single point in roughly 26 minutes.
- After taking control in the third quarter with nine points, Giannis took just one shot in the final quarter, a difficult floater with the shot clock expiring that he somehow got to fall early in the period.
- It was a tough game for the rookie O'Bryant. After picking up those two fouls in the first, he practically never saw the floor the rest of the game. He finished with four points, and only played six minutes.
- Glen Davis looked huge. He's obviously always been known as a bigger player, but something just doesn't feel right from a physical standpoint with him.