Milwaukee Bucks’ Michael Carter-Williams tries to drive past Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin during the second half on Wednesday.(Morry Gash / AP)
Clippers forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute dunks during the first half against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.(Morry Gash / Associated Press)
Milwaukee Bucks’ Greg Monroe and Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan go after a loose ball during the first half on Wednesday.(Morry Gash / AP)
Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin is fouled as he goes up for a shot against Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo during the first half on Wednesday.(Morry Gash / AP)
Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin tries to drive past Milwaukee Bucks’ Jabari Parker during the first half last Wednesday.(Morry Gash / AP)
Clippers forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (12) tries to shoot between Milwaukee Bucks’ Greg Monroe (15) and Giannis Antetokounmpo during the first half on Wednesday.(Morry Gash / Associated Press)
The Clippers continued their version of Road Rules on Wednesday night at the HMO Harris Bradley Center, using a strong second half to dispatch the Milwaukee Bucks, 109-95, for their third consecutive road victory. Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. J.J. Redick bounced back in a big way. He missed his first two shots and never seemed to miss again during a 31-point breakthrough that included a 15-point barrage in the third quarter. Redick made 11 of 18 shots, including six of nine from three-point range. It was almost the opposite of his one-for-nine shooting performance two days earlier against the Minnesota Timberwolves in his first game back from a sprained right ankle that had deprived him of rhythm. But there was something Redick still had going for him. “He’ll never forget how to shoot,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said.
2. A spat didn’t derail the Clippers. Austin Rivers and Josh Smith exchanged words on the court late in the first quarter after a blown defensive assignment by Smith led to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk. Smith also heard from Doc Rivers before giving his coach an earful after Smith made a three-pointer to end the first quarter. Smith was immediately benched and things could have gotten ugly. They didn’t. Smith returned to the game shortly thereafter and the Clippers went on to play much better collectively in the second half. Rivers said the little blowups on the team don’t tend to fester. “We do have a group to me that it just kind of goes away and it’s good,” he said.
3. DeAndre Jordan threw down the dunk heard around the sports world. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but not by much. Jordan took a pass from Chris Paul in transition for a thunderous dunk over Milwaukee’s Greg Monroe that prompted a wide smile from Blake Griffin and all sorts of histrionics on the Clippers bench. “It was cool,” Jordan said. “I’m put in positions like that because we’ve got a lot of guys that can score the basketball. It was just a read. I haven’t seen it yet [on a replay]. We won, so that’s the most important part.” Said Paul: “Any time big fella’s running like that, I’m always trying to find him.”
4. The Clippers seem more in rhythm all the way around. Their defense is tightening, their shots are falling with more regularity and they’re sustaining effort for longer stretches. The improvement is reflected in their having won three consecutive games and seven of their last 10. “I feel like we’re a far better team than we were three weeks ago for sure,” Rivers said. “Having said that, I still don’t think we’re where we’re going to be or even close.”
5. The Doc Rivers homecoming tour continues Thursday in Chicago. It figures to take a poignant turn as Rivers returns to coach a game near his Maywood home for the first time since his mother, Bettye, died this summer. Rivers had spent the previous two days in Milwaukee, where he starred at Marquette. The Clippers practiced in the old Al McGuire Center, where multiple tributes to Rivers’ days with the Golden Eagles remain, including a game-worn jersey and a massive mural of the coach with the Larry O’Brien Trophy he won while guiding the 2008 NBA champion Boston Celtics. Rivers also attended Marquette’s victory over San Diego State on Tuesday at the HMO Harris Bradley Center alongside son Austin Rivers and J.J. Redick, a friend of Marquette coach and fellow Duke alumnus Steve Wojciechowski.