Tuesday, March 25, 2014
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Blake Griffin had 27 points and 14 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Clippers made it consecutive 50-win seasons with a lackluster 106-98 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night.
The Clippers became the ninth NBA team to have different head coaches guide the club to 50 victories in back-to-back seasons. They reached the mark five games earlier under Doc Rivers than they did last season under Vinny Del Negro, when they set a franchise record with 56 wins and captured their first division title before losing to Memphis in the opening round of the playoffs.
This is Rivers' fifth 50-win season as a head coach, including four with Boston.
Chris Paul had 14 points and seven assists for the Clippers, who have won 13 of 14 overall and a season-best eight straight at home.
Griffin had his 29th consecutive game with at least 20 points, the longest streak by a Clippers player since the franchise relocated from San Diego in 1984-85.
Ramon Sessions had a season-high 28 points for the Bucks, who have lost eight in a row and are a league-worst 13-58. They are 1-19 on the road since beating the Lakers by 15 points at Staples Center on New Year's Eve — their only road win against a Western Conference team.
Power forward Ersan Ilysova sat out on the second night of a back-to-back set because of a sore right ankle that has bothered him all season.
Beleaguered coach Larry Drew used his 26th starting lineup, inserting Jeff Adrien in Ilysova's spot and Sessions at shooting guard because of rookie Nate Wolters' broken left hand. It was the first start for both players since they joined the Bucks in a Feb. 20 trade that sent Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal to Charlotte.
Sessions made his first six shots and finished 13 for 21 from the field, scoring 11 points during a 3:43 span down the stretch. Adrien had 14 points and seven rebounds. They were the 15th and 16th players to start a game for the Bucks this season.
Los Angeles never trailed, extending its five-point halftime lead to 71-60 on Darren Collison's three-point play with 5:34 left in the third quarter. The Bucks got as close as 82-80 on back-to-back dunks 28 seconds apart by John Henson, but Glen Davis responded with consecutive layups and Jamal Crawford scored seven points during a 3:52 stretch, including a 3-pointer that gave Los Angeles a 99-92 edge with 3:08 to play.
The Clippers built a 33-18 lead late in the first quarter after center DeAndre Jordan and forward Matt Barnes got in early foul trouble. Jared Dudley, who spent the previous four games on the bench, provided a brief spark with a 17-footer and a 3-pointer 50 seconds apart to give Los Angeles a 45-38 lead with 8:03 left in the half.
The Bucks have gone more than a year since the last time they won consecutive games — March 17-19, 2013, when they beat Orlando and Portland. Both games were in Milwaukee.
NOTES: Los Angeles came in with the league's best 3-point defense (33.1 percent), and Milwaukee had the worst (38.4 percent). The Clippers finished 8 for 18 behind the arc, and the Bucks were 5 for 13. ... The teams met for the first time since Jan. 27, when the Clippers ended their seven-game Grammy road trip with a 114-86 rout. Paul missed that game because of a separated shoulder. ... The Clippers are 31-5 at home, and the Bucks are 5-31 on the road. ... The Bucks have lost six straight and 13 of 14 to the Clippers in Los Angeles. ... The Clippers head out on a five-game trip before ending the regular season with five of six at Staples Center.