J.J. Redick took the Clippers' first two shots Wednesday, trying to quickly purge the memory of one of the worst shooting performances of his career two days earlier. They both missed.
"I was worried, here we go again," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers would admit later.
There was no need to fret. Redick made his next two shots, a prelude to a third-quarter barrage that helped carry the Clippers to a 109-95 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Redick scored 15 of his season-high 31 points in the third quarter, finding his rhythm for a team that is also starting to get in sync with its third consecutive triumph. Redick finished the game making 11 of 18 shots and six of nine three-pointers, easily eclipsing his one-for-nine shooting performance two days earlier at Minnesota.
"Once you hit a couple in a row in the third quarter," Redick said, "you kind of feel it a little bit."
Redick made six of eight shots in the quarter, including three of four three-pointers. The onslaught helped the Clippers seize control of a game they had trailed by one point at halftime before outscoring the Bucks by 15 the rest of the way.
No one is going to suddenly anoint the Clippers (13-9) contenders, but they have won seven of their last 10 games and are 2-0 on a five-game trip that will make its next stop in Chicago on Thursday.
"We're not going to say that we've perfected anything," said Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who recorded a season-high 18 assists to go with his 18 points. "We know it's been a struggle for us right now early in the season, but we're finding a little rhythm."
Paul helped orchestrate improved ball movement in the second half that led to many of Redick's open looks. Clippers forward Blake Griffin had 21 points and 14 rebounds and center DeAndre Jordan continued his recent resurgence with 19 rebounds, nine points, three blocked shots and one monster dunk over Milwaukee's Greg Monroe in the first quarter. The play left a smile on Griffin's face and the Clippers' bench in hysterics.
"It's awesome," Griffin said. "One of the best dunks I've seen so far this year."
The Clippers also outrebounded Milwaukee, 51-40, for the largest margin in their favor this season while holding the Bucks to a season-low 20% shooting from three-point range.
Their solid all-around play allowed them to quickly dismiss a verbal blowup late in the first quarter that started when Milwaukee's Michael Carter-Williams split the Clippers' defense for a dunk on a blown assignment by Josh Smith. Austin Rivers and his father yelled at Smith, who yelled back at the coach after making a three-pointer to end the first quarter.
Doc Rivers then removed Smith from the game, but hard feelings didn't linger.
"It's not like we even discussed it at halftime," Doc Rivers said. "We're all big boys, we get over it."
Smith played in each of the next three quarters and finished the game with nine points, four rebounds and two blocks.
His wasn't the only testy exchange on a night that Redick and Griffin argued momentarily over who was going to take a rebound.
"I was like, 'What the hell, over a rebound?'" Doc Rivers said. "But at halftime, if you looked at the team sitting there, it was like, let's talk about the second half."
Said Paul of the team's feistiness: "It happens sometimes when you're winning and sometimes when you're losing, but you get past it. It's what the good teams do."
The Clippers are starting to look like they might qualify based on recent events.