Los Angeles, CA— It's tough to beat the team with the best record in the league on their home floor, and it's much more difficult if you come in short-handed like the Los Angeles Clippers (45-31) did on Thursday night.
They found that out against the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks (57-19) when their six-game winning streak was snapped. This was Los Angeles’ longest winning streak of the season.
They fell in Milwaukee 128-118, after defeating them earlier this season in OT 128-126 back at Staples Center.
Photo By: (Aaron Gash / Associated Press)
This time around, head coach Doc Rivers was without two of his best players and leaders in Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams. Beverley sat out due to a right hip pointer he suffered on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Head Coach Doc Rivers and the rest of his staff decided to keep Williams out for rest.
It may have showed by the second quarter as Milwaukee was able to take control of the game, going into halftime with a 21-pt lead (67-46).
Los Angeles was able to cut the deficient to 10 with just under five minutes remaining (79-69) but Milwaukee wouldn't allow LA any closer. They went on a 9-2 run pushing the lead back to 16 (88-71), finished the third leading 100-77.
They would finish off LA in the fourth.
Photo By: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles was led by Rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who led the team in points and assists for the first time in his young career. He scored 21 points, (8-15) FG, and had 5 assists. Danilo Gallinari had 14 points on just 3-9 from the field.
The bench showed up as they've done all season, despite being without Lou Williams (20.3 ppg). JaMychal Green had 16 points making 4-8 from 3-pt, and Montrezl Harrell added 13.
Garrett Temple who started in place of injured Beverley did not score during his 36 minutes.
They shot the ball well from 3-pt making 17-33.
Photo By: Gary Dineen/ Getty Images
The Milwaukee Bucks (57-19), the team with the best overall record and who have won five of the last six, look to be cruising to the top overall seed come postseason. They have the best home record in the league at 32-6.
They had all five starters in double figures and were led by their two All-Stars, as they have been all season.
Giannis Antetokoumpo and first year All-Star Kris Middleton combined for 73 points and each had 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Antetokoumpo, who finished with 34 points, re-injured his right ankle after finishing above the rim with 7:46 left in the game. He immediately went to the bench and didn't return. He's already missed two games with the injury initially suffered March 17 vs. Philadelphia.
"I'm definitely working on it, trying to get it healthy, stronger,” Antetokounmpo said after the game. ”I'm trying to get my mobility back. It's not going to be easy. Usually when you sprain your ankle, you stay out for two, three, four games. But I don't like missing games. I've got to work through it while playing. I'll be ready to play until Coach [Mike Budenholzer] tells me not to play."
Middleton's 39 points (16-24) FG was a career-high.
"I'm feeling good," Middleton said. "The Houston game was just a dud. I had a lot of great shots and air-balled most of them, I felt like. Tonight, I came out with the same mentality, just being aggressive and pick my spots. I was just trying to find a rhythm."
Eric Bledsoe and Sterling Brown (starting in place of injured Malcolm Brogdon) each scored 15.
Milwaukee travels to Atlanta on Sunday.
Clippers’ Next Game: Saturday vs Cleveland. 12:30 PT.