After years of futility, the new-look Los Angeles Clippers are suddenly anything but lacking in confidence.
The same can't be said for the Milwaukee Bucks, who let another potential win slip away their last time out.
The Clippers look for an 11th victory in 12 home meetings with a Bucks team hoping to avoid opening 0-5 on the road for the first time in seven seasons Saturday night.
With the additions of superstar point guard Chris Paul and former All-Stars Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler, Los Angeles (3-2) seems to have already shed its label as one of the NBA's bottom feeders.
The Clippers, who have just one playoff appearance over the last 14 seasons, are averaging 101.2 points on 48.5 percent shooting to rank among the league's top five in both categories.
"We're dangerous, man. We've got a very dangerous team, offensively. We can beat you in so many different areas," Billups told the team's official website. "I think that's going to be advantage for us all year, having so many different weapons offensively in the starting unit and in the second unit. We're going to win a lot of games like that."
In contrast, Milwaukee (2-4) has struggled to find a winning formula. The Bucks' only victories came against Minnesota and Washington at home at the end of December, and they dropped to 0-4 on the road with Thursday's 103-100 loss to Sacramento.
Milwaukee, which hasn't lost its first five road games since opening 0-7 as the visiting team in 2004-05, took a 21-point halftime lead but couldn't hold off the Kings. Three of the Bucks' losses have come by five points or fewer.
"I don't want to take anything away from (Sacramento's) performance, but I feel we should have won the game. This has become a trend for us and we have to find a way to solve it," coach Scott Skiles said.
"We have been able to build nice leads, and then we go away from what we do and this happens. We are having trouble acknowledging those types of problems, and we need to fix those types of problems."
Point guard Brandon Jennings recorded seasons highs of 31 points and five steals while going 6 of 10 from 3-point range Thursday, and Milwaukee may need another big effort from him if it hopes to keep up with the Clippers.
Los Angeles posted its highest point total and most lopsided victory of the season Wednesday, blowing out Houston 117-89. Paul had his second double-double with 20 points and 10 assists while Blake Griffin scored 22 along with nine rebounds.
The NBA's top rookie last season, Griffin seems to have taken his game to another level with Paul running the show. He is among the league leaders with an average of 25.2 points and is shooting 56.8 percent from the field - significantly better than his impressive 50.6 mark from last season.
"It's been great playing with him," Paul said. "He is a workhorse. I saw that when I played against him, but playing on the same team with him, you really appreciate how hard he works. But it's our job as guards - me, Chauncey and the other guards - not to make him have to work so hard. We're here to make his job easier, so that's what we're going to continue to try to do."
Griffin could have an easier time getting things going down low if Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut is unavailable. Bogut's status is unknown after he missed the last two games for undisclosed personal reasons.
Swingman Mike Dunleavy (groin) and forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (right knee tendinitis) also could remain out.
- Sports & Recreation
- Sports & Recreation/Basketball
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Los Angeles
- Chris Paul
- Chauncey Billups