After a miserable start, the Los Angeles Clippers can salvage a split of their six-game road swing and return home with some momentum for a playoff push when they face the resurgent Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center on Wednesday night.
Los Angeles (31-36) lost three of its first four games on the trip, including defeats to Houston and New Jersey by a combined 10 points. But the Clippers showed some resiliency Tuesday night in a 103-89 victory at Chicago in which Cuttino Mobley, Corey Maggette and Elton Brand combined for 68 points.
“We deserved to win. We played well at Houston and were leading with 2 minutes to go and lost. We were leading New Jersey with 2 minutes to go and lost,” said Brand, who had 21 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. “It’s been a disappointing road trip with how well we’ve played. It was imperative that we got this win.
“We’ve been playing well but it hasn’t correlated into wins. We have to turn playing well into wins. If we win tomorrow it will be a good trip. Not a great trip, but a good trip.”
The win, coupled with Golden State’s loss to Utah on Tuesday, moved the Clippers within one percentage point of the Warriors for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Clippers, who shot 50.8 percent (32-for-63) from the field, are trying to win consecutive road games for the first time since Jan. 28-Feb. 2 and just the third time all season. They have shot 48.7 percent (19-for-39) from 3-point range over the last three games.
“We have been playing well of late and on this whole trip but it has just not been showing up in victories,” Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. “Tonight we did a good job moving the ball especially in the second half. I’m really pleased with that and now we just need to finish up this trip on a positive note.”
Milwaukee (25-41) is 2-0 under new coach Larry Krystkowiak following its 97-91 victory over Charlotte on Saturday. Michael Redd scored 27 points for the Bucks, who are 3-2 on a seven-game homestand that wraps up Sunday against Eastern Conference-leading Detroit.
“It’s a fresh start,” said Redd, who scored 23 in the second half. “It showed itself the last two games. We’re moving the basketball, we’re playing together.”
The Bucks took control of the game in the fourth quarter by sinking 18 of 20 free throws and outscoring the Bobcats 30-21.
“The aggressor wins the game,” Krystkowiak said. “It doesn’t take a genius to know that when you’re more aggressive and taking the ball to the basket you’re probably going to get more calls.”
In his last four games, Redd has averaged 28.5 points while shooting 51.9 percent (42-for-81) from the field. The guard, who missed the first game between the teams this season due to a knee injury, has been held to 16.7 points in 10 career games against the Clippers.
Redd, though, has averaged 27.0 points in the last four he has played against Los Angeles.
The Clippers have won four straight from the Bucks and are trying to sweep the series for the second straight season. Brand scored 25 points and Mobley added 22 in a 115-96 victory on Jan. 23. Charlie Bell led Milwaukee with 24 points.