Los Angeles (24-53) at Milwaukee (38-40)

Cloudy Currently: Milwaukee, WI
Temp: 56° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EDT Wed Apr 9, 2003
  • TV: WCGV
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Milwaukee Bucks are already in control of their own playoff destiny.

They just need to get “mentally tougher” down the stretch, according to coach George Karl.

The Bucks hope to start toughening up against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Bradley Center.

The Bucks hold a 1 1/2 -game lead over the Washington Wizards for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with four games to play. New York is three games out, but Milwaukee holds the tiebreaker over both the Wizards and the Knicks and has the advantage of playing three of its final four games at home.

The Bucks need any combination of three wins or Wizards’ losses to clinch the final berth.

However, Milwaukee showed little urgency in Chicago on Saturday, blowing a 19-point third-quarter lead in a crushing 117-115 overtime loss.

Gary Payton scored 24 points and Sam Cassell added 21 as the Bucks had their four-game winning streak snapped and missed a chance to reach .500 for the first time since March 11.

“I think if we had been mentally tougher and played better team basketball, then we would have won,” Karl said.

Toni Kukoc sat out Saturday’s game with a sore right foot, while forwards Anthony Mason and Jason Caffey each missed their fourth straight games due to thigh and back injuries, respectively.

It is uncertain if any of three will be available Wednesday.

The Clippers took the earlier meeting against the Bucks, 110-104 in Los Angeles on Feb. 19. That was only their third victory in the last nine matchups with Milwaukee.

Los Angeles has lost 19 of 24 since that win, including Tuesday’s 111-108 setback at Memphis.

Corey Maggette scored 22 points and Elton Brand had 21 and 10 rebounds for his 41st double-double of the season as Los Angeles kicked off a five-game road trip.

Brand is averaging 19.3 points and 12.5 rebounds in four games since returning from a lower left leg stress fracture.

STANDINGS: Clippers - 7th place, 31 1/2 GB, Pacific Division. Bucks - 4th place, 9 1/2 GB, Central Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Clippers - F Brand, F Lamar Odom, C Sean Rooks, G Maggette, G Andre Miller. Bucks - F Marcus Haislip, F Desmond Mason, C Joel Przybilla, G Cassell, G Payton.

TEAM LEADERS: Clippers - Brand, 18.4 ppg and 11.3 rpg; Andre Miller, 6.7 apg. Bucks - Payton, 20.1 ppg and 7.5 apg; Anthony Mason, 6.5 rpg.

SEASON SERIES: Clippers, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 19; Clippers, 110-104. At Los Angeles, the Clippers shot 51 percent (43-of-85) from the field and held a 48-37 rebounding advantage. Magette was 10-of-20 for a team-high 23 points for Los Angeles. Cassell scored 21 for the Bucks.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Clippers - 9-28 on the road; Bucks - 22-16 at home.

INJURIES: Clippers - F Cherokee Parks (back); F Tremaine Fowlkes (shoulder); C Michael Olowokandi (knee); G Quentin Richardson (knee). Bucks - F Jamal Sampson (shoulder); F Anthony Mason (thigh); F Caffey (back); F Kukoc (foot).

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