The Los Angeles Clippers had won five of seven before visiting Milwaukee last month, but the Bucks took a 30-point halftime lead en route to a blowout victory.
It turned out to be a sign of things to come.
Still without a victory since that game, the Clippers will try to avoid a 13th straight loss on Saturday when they host the Bucks, who’ve alternated wins and losses in their last 13 contests.
Los Angeles looked like an improved team between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with newly acquired Zach Randolph averaging 26.7 points over an 11-game stretch from Nov. 29-Dec. 19 and the Clippers winning six of those games.
But Randolph had just four points in the 119-85 loss at Milwaukee on Dec. 20, and he’s missed the last 10 games with a knee injury. With Baron Davis and Chris Kaman also injured, the Clippers (8-30) have crumbled and are now tied with Oklahoma City and Washington for the NBA low in wins.
Instead, they’ve been a doormat in recent weeks, losing by an average of nearly 15 points during their skid—their longest since they lost 13 straight during the 2003-04 season.
Things looked especially bleak during their 97-80 home loss to Atlanta on Wednesday, as they managed just 31 points in the first half, matching a season low.
“It really depends on how we start off games, we get so down from the beginning, with messy execution,” said forward Al Thornton, a bright spot with 25 points and nine rebounds. “Our offense tightens up and they get too many easy baskets on us and it hurts. It is definitely frustrating, but we need to keep fighting and find a way out of here.”
The Bucks are also looking for a way out of their inconsistent pattern, which they can snap with a win Saturday. Since beating Utah on Dec. 23, Milwaukee (20-22) has followed every victory with a loss, and vice versa.
Coach Scott Skiles’ club opened a three-game West Coast trip with a 129-122 victory at Sacramento on Friday. While Michael Redd scored a season-high 44 points, he didn’t score in the fourth quarter as Milwaukee held off the Kings’ rally thanks in part to 15 of Charlie Villanueva’s 25 points.
“In the fourth they started collapsing on me a lot and I didn’t want to make any foolish plays,” Redd said. “I was content to try and set up my teammates.”
Still, Redd shot 16-of-26 from the field and 6-of-9 from 3-point range, continuing his hot streak. In his last 11 games, Redd is averaging 26.6 points and shooting 51.4 percent from the field.
“I missed a lot of games early and when I came back I wasn’t totally healthy,” Redd said. “I kept rehabbing the ankle and it started to feel better. Now I’m in one of those (great) stretches right now.”
Redd had just 14 points against the Clippers last month, but eight Milwaukee players scored in double figures in the Bucks’ most lopsided win of the season. With a win Saturday, they would sweep Los Angeles in a season series for the first time since 1999-2000.