NBA News Wire

Clippers hold off cellar-dwelling Bucks

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LOS ANGELES — Sometimes the worst NBA teams can bring out the worst in some of the league’s best.

The Milwaukee Bucks, who own the worst record in the league, stayed close Monday before forward Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers sealed a win with some late buckets.

Griffin scored 27 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, leading the Clippers to a 106-98 victory at Staples Center.

The Pacific Division-leading Clippers (50-21) won a season-high eighth in a row at home, and they topped the 50-victory mark for only the second time in franchise history. They won 56 games last season.

Milwaukee (13-58) lost its eighth consecutive game overall and fell to 5-31 on the road.

“That was an ugly one for us,” said Griffin, who also had six assists and three blocks and scored at least 20 points for the 29th consecutive game. “There’s not much to like about it besides the ‘W.’ Obviously, we’ll take the win.

“To their credit, they played hard. But like I said, we’ll take the win.”

Clippers guard Darren Collison added 15 points and six assists, point guard Chris Paul had 14 points and seven assists, and guard Jamal Crawford came off the bench to score 13 points.

“We’re not pleased with our effort,” Collison said. “We know we’ve got to do better. We’re playing for something bigger. No disrespect to Milwaukee and what they do over there, but we know what we have to do. I thought we made some mistakes throughout the game. But at the end of the day, as long as we win, that’s all that matters.”

Guard Ramon Sessions led Milwaukee with 28 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists. Forward Jeff Adrien and center Zaza Pachulia scored 14 points apiece.

“We knew we laid an egg against Sacramento and didn’t compete well,” said Sessions, referring to the Bucks’ 124-107 loss to the Kings on Sunday. “Tonight, though, the effort was there. It’s a reason why they are one of the best teams in the West. They closed us out. As a young team, it’s something we have to learn how to do.”

The Clippers led by double digits in each quarter but could not shake the Bucks.

“You always want to play well, but you want to win also,” Paul said. “It’s not going to be pretty every night. Tonight, it was do what you have to do to win.”

The Clippers took a 79-74 lead into the fourth quarter before Milwaukee cut the margin to 82-80 on an alley-oop dunk by forward John Henson with 10 minutes left.

Consecutive baskets by Los Angeles forward Glen Davis ignited a 12-4 run for a 94-84 lead with about six minutes remaining. Milwaukee cut the deficit to 96-92 after a free throw by forward Giannis Antetokounmpo with 3:24 left, but the Clippers pulled away down the stretch.

“They’re a very, very good basketball team,” Milwaukee coach Larry Drew said.

Los Angeles led by as many as 15 points in the first quarter before the Bucks rallied in the second. Milwaukee pulled within 47-46 after a layup by forward Khris Middleton with 5:10 remaining in the second quarter, but the Bucks failed to take the lead. The Clippers held on for a 57-52 advantage at the break.

The Clippers hit 48.7 percent (38 of 78) of their shots, nearly the same as the Bucks’ 48.2 percent (41 of 85) success rate. The Clippers outscored the Bucks 22-7 on fast-break points.

Milwaukee held a 54-40 edge on points in the paint.

NOTES: Milwaukee fielded its 26th different starting lineup, with G Ramon Sessions and F Jeff Adrien getting starting nods. Bucks coach Larry Drew held out F Ersan Ilyasova to prevent him from playing back-to-back games. Ilyasova is nursing an ailing right ankle. … Los Angeles G Jamal Crawford had one 3-pointer Monday, and he needs five more to pass Los Angeles Lakers G Steve Nash for 11th all-time on treys. Crawford also is five shy of the club mark of 149 in a season. … The Bucks are 2-27 against Western Conference teams. Their only wins were over the Lakers and the Utah Jazz. … Monday’s game capped a winless eight-game road trip for the Bucks. They return home for two games, facing the Lakers on Thursday and the Miami Heat on Saturday. … The Clippers embark on a five-game road swing beginning Wednesday against the New Orleans Hornets.