The Clippers came undone in the second half and fell 137-113 to the scorching-hot Milwaukee Bucks. Keep reading for a full recap of the Clippers’ loss to the Bucks.
The Sunday night battle at Crypto.com Arena packed plenty of offense to begin the evening. Marcus Morris Sr. and Reggie Jackson led the Clippers to an early 15-11 lead as the LA opened by hitting six of its first 12 shots. But the Bucks found their legs and grabbed a 19-18 lead by the 4-minute mark. Norman Powell entered shortly after and quickly put his imprint on the game. He drained a three from the top of the arc on his first offensive possession and racked up five more points before the quarter’s end. Powell’s seven and Morris Sr.’ 11 were enough to give the Clippers a 32-28 edge at the end of one.
Another newcomer, Robert Covington, added to LA’s fast start to the second quarter by drilling a wing three. The Clipper lead grew to nine before a 9-2 run tied the game at 37. Things slowed from there. Both offenses struggled to put the ball in the basket and only combined to score six points over the next four minutes of play. However, Milwaukee’s offense reawakened as the quarter dragged. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday repeatedly touched the paint and generated points while the Clippers’ halfcourt offense stayed stagnant. And a buzzer-beating corner three from Bobby Portis sent the defending champs into the half with a 60-51 lead.
The third quarter’s start started similarly to the final half of the second quarter. Milwaukee cranked up the defense and got out in transition. Giannis continuously worked his way to the paint and rotated between finishes at the rim and kicking out to shooters for three. By the third Pat Connaughton three-pointer, the Bucks’ lead reached 23 points. That number got up to 25 before a Norman Powell and Luke Kennard-led LA second unit fought back and cut the deficit to 18 by the end of the third quarter.
The momentum from the final minutes of the third quarter spilled into the final frame as a Powell-Mann-Kennard-Covington quartet found success on both ends of the court. With Powell and Mann attacking the paint and both Kennard and Covington converting from beyond the arc, the Clips brought the margin to single digits. But Jrue Holiday was there to cease the momentum. A Holiday straight-line drive to the rim, followed by a top-of-the-arc three, highlighted a 9-2 Bucks run and gave them a 16-point cushion. Milwaukee continued to tickle the twine from that point and the Clippers never got any closer, falling 137-113 to the Bucks.
Rotations: As expected, Ty Lue will have his work cut out in figuring out how to manage the lineups. Reggie and Zu will most likely remain in the starting lineup, and Powell will be in there before long. Things get crowded and a little confusing after that. Nico-Morris-Covington minutes will need some sorting, as will the Mann-Coffey-Kennard minutes on the wing. Not to mention, there needs to be some sort of backup point guard eventually. Another trade or two would likely settle some things, but the logjam will remain until then.
Norman Powell: Other than some first-half foul trouble, his debut couldn’t have gone much better. He immediately showed his versatility as a scorer by connecting on a three, finishing at the rim, getting to the line, and hitting a floater on his first four scores as a Clipper. He was equally as good in the second half and his presence on the offensive end helped bring a one-time 25-point deficit to single digits. I can pretty comfortably say that he will be the best and most efficient Clipper player on offense until the superstars return.
Robert Covington: Covington was very solid in his debut. He defended decently, made three of six three-pointers, and had activity on the glass. He’ll be better as he gets a few practices and reps with the team under his belt — That is, if he is not flipped at the deadline. RoCo was the most impactful of the three forwards (Morris, Batum, RoCo) in this one.
The Clippers are off on Monday but will be in Memphis on Tuesday for a date with the Grizzlies. Be sure to come back around for a preview and recap of the game.