Nobody could blame the Clippers on Saturday night if they felt a little out of place on their home court.
They were playing the second of four games in five days across four time zones. Their coach, Doc Rivers, called it "a road game with familiar faces."
Those faces were cheery after the Clippers persevered during a come-from-behind 106-102 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at Staples Center.
Chris Paul made two free throws to break a 102-102 tie and Blake Griffin tipped in a missed jumper by Paul with five seconds left to help the Clippers pull out a game in which they had trailed by four points with 41/2 minutes to play.
Paul finished with 27 points and nine assists and Griffin chipped in 24 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
"I thought he just got very aggressive and when you get that aggressive, you get to the foul line," Rivers said of Paul, who made six free throws over the final 3:37.
The Clippers also got a boost from shooting guards J.J. Redick, who made five of eight three-pointers on the way to 23 points, and Jamal Crawford, who added 17 points off the bench.
The wobbly legged stretch confronting the Clippers is the result of an extended All-Star break that will last up to a week for some teams, leading to fewer days during the season to squeeze in more games.
The Clippers will travel to San Antonio on Sunday before playing the Spurs on Monday and the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, after having begun the strenuous sequence Friday in Denver.
"I know I have never experienced anything this wild in my career as a player or a coach," Rivers said before the game. "It's a doozy."
Rivers, a member of the NBA's competition committee, said he expected the league to extend the length of the regular season next year to avoid the compacted schedules.
Rivers said he wanted a better start from his team and the Clippers largely complied, taking an eight-point lead in the first quarter. Then the Clippers reserves came in and did what they've done a lot of lately, giving it all back.
In a repeat of their victory over the Clippers last week in Milwaukee, the Bucks continually made easy forays to the basket in piling up 46 points in the paint before losing their touch at the end, missing six of their last seven shots.
Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 18 points for the Bucks, who were missing Jabari Parker after the star rookie was lost for the season Monday with a torn knee ligament.
The Clippers appeared closer to getting back reserve forward-center Spencer Hawes, who has resumed running and shooting after getting a second opinion on the bone bruise in his left knee.
Hawes said the doctor told him his type of injury typically takes about three weeks to heal, meaning he could return roughly around New Year's given that he was injured Dec. 12.