All you need to know about the season Milwaukee is having is that Philadelphia is on a 25-game losing streak . . . and still has a better record than that of the NBA-worst Bucks.
The Bucks brought their traveling woe show to Staples Center on Monday night and somehow kept things more than competitive against the Clippers.
The Clippers led by only four points with a little more than three minutes left before starting to vaguely resemble the team that has the league's second-best home record, emerging with a 106-98 victory that fell squarely into the scarier-than-it-should-have-been department.
Jamal Crawford helped the Clippers wipe their brows in relief by making a high-arc three-pointer from the corner with 3 minutes 7 seconds remaining, sparking a 5-0 mini-run that gave his team a 101-92 lead and essentially ended the Bucks' hopes.
“It's not going to be pretty every night,” said Clippers guard Chris Paul, who had 14 points and seven assists, “so tonight it was do whatever you have to do to win.”
Blake Griffin had 27 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocked shots for the Clippers. He put the exclamation point on a largely dreary showing by his team with a ferocious one-handed dunk with a little more than a minute to go.
The triumph had special significance because it was the Clippers' 50th of the season, giving them at least that many for a second consecutive season and only the second time in franchise history. The Clippers (50-21) won 56 games last season.
“We've got to get a lot more wins, it looks like, because everybody's winning,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said, referring to the Western Conference playoff race. “We have to try to get home court and keep home court” for the playoffs.
Darren Collison had 15 points and six assists for the Clippers, who will start a five-game trip Wednesday in New Orleans.
Small forward Jared Dudley logged more than a minute of playing time for the first time since March 4, scoring five points in five minutes. He sat out three games because of back spasms and has lost his spot in the rotation to Danny Granger.
Ramon Sessions, making a rare start, finished with a season-high 28 points plus seven assists and six rebounds for the Bucks (13-58), who were blown out Sunday night in Sacramento.
The Clippers built a 15-point lead in the first half but couldn't hold it, Milwaukee closing to within a point midway through the second quarter and staying within single digits for most of the rest of the game. The Bucks took advantage of 13 turnovers and slipshod defense by the Clippers.
“I wasn't real happy with us offensively tonight,” Rivers said. “I didn't think we moved the ball a lot and then I thought we were careless with the ball as well. But I'll take the win.”
Said Paul: “I guarantee you when the playoffs start, nobody will remember this game.”
The Clippers can only hope.
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