Blake Griffin goes Space Jam on the Milwaukee Bucks

Blake Griffin

AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Don’t let that 19-28 Los Angeles Clippers record fool you. These Clippers can run and jump like the monstars in Space Jam.

Los Angeles came into their Monday night game against the Milwaukee Bucks riding an eight game home winning streak, mostly on the back of the human jet pack, Blake Griffin. Even with Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman sidelined, the Clippers managed to stretch that streak to nine games with a fourth quarter surge and a 105-98 victory over the Bucks.

By Jake McCormick

Notable Milwaukee Bucks performers:

When Keyon Dooling (5-11 fg, 1-4 3fg, 11 pts, 8 asts, 3 rbs, 1 TO) wasn’t driving and executing good wrap around passes, he was taking advantage of open looks, especially in the second half. Dooling was also a huge asset defensively, as he picked Clippers’ pockets three times and made the most of his increasingly decreasing minutes.

Brandon Jennings (5-13 fg, 2-3 3fg, 12 pts, 3 asts) was the sole spark that lit the Bucks’ match at the start of the second quarter, holding responsibility for all 10 of Milwaukee’s points in a 10-2 run (eight points, one assist). Jennings was a chucker in his 17 minutes, but watching him take over a small stretch of the game in limited minutes is the most encouraging thing you could see in his second game back.

In his past nine starts, Corey Maggette has averaged 18.6 points a game, hitting 49.5% on field goals, 44% on three pointers, and grabbing 5.2 rebounds. When Maggette is missing shots from the field, he’s making up for it from the free throw line. He scored 13 of his 25 points against the Clippers on the charity stripe while missing all four three point attempts (6-13 fg overall).

In-game observations:

Blake Griffin is so good (13-20 fg, 32 pts, 11 rbs, 6 asts), he could make the NBA Dunk Contest must-see TV. Griffin was more than happy to oblige the unusually electric Clippers’ crowd with 19 first half points and two super-athletic dunks (one ally-oop, one windmill on a breakaway) Bucks players could only make in NBA Jam.

Milwaukee finished the first quarter with a paltry 16 points to Los Angeles’ 26, but sparked a fire to start the second with a 10-2 run. The entire comeback came off the familiar fingertips of Brandon Jennings, who immediately drained two three pointers, dished a pass to Luc Mbah a Moute (5-5 fg, 10 pts, 6 rbs) for a layup, and nailed a mid-range jumper. That last sentence has to make even the most worried Bucks fans smile.

The Bucks managed to stick with the Clippers’ hyper-athleticism for most of the game because of their jump shooting. But a team that has notoriously struggled to hit anything resembling a jump shot throughout most of the season is sure to come back to earth at some point.

Around the four minute mark in the fourth quarter, Los Angeles went on a 12-2 run, while hitting all freebies that came their way (25-27 for the night, despite a league-worst 69% on free throw shooting).

Pessimist: Athletes usually go Bambi’s mother on the Bucks

Milwaukee had problems last season with a very athletic, yet underwhelming Philadelphia 76ers, and the Clippers whole team philosophy is basically built on highlight reel ally-oops, dunks, and the occasional mid-range jump shot.

The Bucks’ best athlete is probably Larry Sanders, who was conspicuously absent Monday night in favor of the tree trunk that is Jon Brockman. But beyond him, Corey Maggette is as close as it gets to a pure athlete, which says a lot about what the Bucks should be looking at come the NBA Trading Deadline and/or NBA Draft.

Optimist: Brandon Jennings
Sure, Brandon Jennings was inaccurate in nearly all of his 17 minutes except the first 2:15 of the second quarter, but he was much more aggressive offensively, and embraced contact inside on a few occasions.

Carlos Delfino fit the mold of a chucker in his first couple games back from a concussion (55 minutes, 6-23 fg, 2-14 3fg), and Scott Skiles probably wants Jennings to feel like the leash has been taken off so he would be comfortable enough to get into a rhythm.

Realist: The Clippers aren’t terrible

After the Bucks’ win Saturday night against the New Jersey Nets, Andrew Bogut (6-9 fg, 14 pts, 11 rbs and a knee injury) acknowledged that Blake Griffin could drop 40 points and it wouldn’t matter as long as Milwaukee won.

The only problem is the four other Clippers on the court stepped up as well, most notably Randy Foye (6-13 fg, 20 pts, 5 asts), who sunk the game-clinching three after a devastating Baron Davis (7-14 fg, 18 pts, 7 aststs, 5 rbs) offensive rebound.

Los Angeles’ nine game home winning streak is nothing to scoff at, as Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan (7-8 fg, 16 pts, 7 rbs) are surrounded by respectable shooters and form one of the most athletic front courts in the NBA. The Bucks have dropped 14 of their last 20 games against the Clippers, and they’ll get no love heading to Phoenix on Wednesday, where they haven’t won in 22 straight games.

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