Bucks shredded by red-hot Clippers
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers have a solid starting five and a deep bench. On Saturday night, it was Matt Barnes’ turn to lead the way to another victory.
Barnes scored 21 points, Blake Griffin had 18 points and 11 rebounds and the Clippers routed the cold-shooting Milwaukee Bucks 111-85 for their ninth consecutive victory.
DeAndre Jordan added 15 points and 11 rebounds for Los Angeles (17-6), which had lost three in a row in Milwaukee. Griffin had three spectacular dunks in a brief stretch in the third quarter.
It’s the longest winning streak for the franchise since the Buffalo Braves captured 11 in a row during the 1974-75 season.
“It’s not easy to win in this league but I’m pleased,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We’re finding different ways to win.”
Del Negro, like many of the Clippers’ players in the locker room after the game, stressed the importance of not looking too far ahead or being absorbed by thoughts of an extended playoff run.
“We are definitely super talented and our bench helps us win a lot of games,” Jordan said. “If we can stay healthy and continue to do what we are doing, we’ll be OK.”
Barnes was 8 for 10 from the field and 5 for 6 at the free throw line. The reserve also had four assists and two steals.
“Matt keeps moving. He’s a runner,” Del Negro said. “He does a really good job defensively. He’s been very consistent for us in his effort and his energy and he’s really helping out that second group a lot.”
Barnes acknowledged that many of his points came in transition and not from set plays.
“If you run hard you’re going to get rewarded,” he said. “A lot of it is just hustle.”
The Bucks (12-10), who had won four in a row, shot 36 percent from the field.
“That’s a very talented team. If you’re going to compete with them, you need a superior effort and we had an inferior effort tonight,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “We were flat-footed the whole night and gave up 66 points in the paint. We got caught ball-watching a couple of times and just generally weren’t very competitive.”
Many of the Bucks’ missed shots led to easy baskets for the Clippers, who had 31 fast-break points.
“We took some bad shots in the paint and they bounced out a ways and then (the Clippers) were off and running,” Skiles said. “They’re almost unbeatable when that’s the case.”
Slowing down the Clippers on offense goes beyond focusing on playmaking guard Chris Paul, said Marquis Daniel, who led Milwaukee with 16 points.
“We have to get back in transition,” Daniels said. “Their bigs were the ones getting out in transition, getting dunks and layups. That’s their game. You have to take that away from them.”
Monta Ellis had 13 for the Bucks, but went 4 for 14 from the floor. Brandon Jennings was held to nine points on 3-for-13 shooting.
The Clippers put together a 20-6 surge to build a 28-15 lead after one. Jordan had eight points in the first.
The Bucks scored the first seven points of the second period, including back-to-back 3-pointers by Ersan Ilyasova and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Milwaukee was down six at 32-26 when the Clippers scored 23 of the final 32 points of the quarter to lead 55-35 at the break.
The Bucks shot just 26.2 percent from the floor in the over the first two quarters, compared with 52.5 percent for the Clippers.
Milwaukee outscored Los Angeles 27-24 in the third but the Clippers still held a 17 point lead at the end of the period.
Both teams played their reserves throughout most of the final quarter.
“Our starters got off to a very good start for us and then our bench came in and extended it,” Del Negro said. “We took control of the game in the first half and we weathered the storm in the third quarter.”
NOTES: A moment of silence was held in memory of the victims in the elementary school shooting in Connecticut on Friday. … Bucks forward Mike Dunleavy, still feeling the effects of a bone bruise to a knee, sat out again. Dunleavy has missed six of Milwaukee’s last seven games. “He tried a little bit this morning and just didn’t feel like it was right yet,” Skiles said. Beno Udrih (sprained right ankle) and Tobias Harris (lacerated right elbow) also didn’t suit up. … The shooting struggles for the Bucks rookie G Doron Lamb continued. Over the past three games, Lamb is 3 for 24 from the field. Lamb missed his first six shots from the field on Saturday before converting a layup late in the second quarter.