The Los Angeles Clippers had been rolling along before coming up short against one of the NBA's best teams over the weekend.
While they might normally like their chances of getting back on track with a visit from Milwaukee, the Bucks are starting to hit their stride.
The Clippers aim for a 12th home win in 13 matchups against the Bucks, who look to extend their winning streak to a season-high five Wednesday night.
Sitting comfortably atop the Pacific Division, Los Angeles (43-19) had won eight of nine before falling 108-104 to Oklahoma City on Sunday. Chris Paul had 26 points while Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford added 20 apiece for the Clippers, who erased a 19-point deficit but couldn't keep up down the stretch.
Not including two losses to the Thunder, Los Angeles has gone 18-2 over its last 20 home games.
"Hopefully we can use this as a barometer to tighten some things up," coach Vinny Del Negro told the team's official website. "No one is going to feel sorry for you. You've got to get some good work in, get ready for Wednesday and then move forward."
The Clippers, who cruised to a 111-85 victory at Milwaukee on Dec. 15, have won 11 of 15 in the series.
Milwaukee (30-28), though, could have a chance to snap those woes if its recent play is any indication. The Bucks have averaged 109.0 points - 10.5 more than their season mark - during their win streak.
Milwaukee got all it could handle Monday but escaped with a 109-108 overtime win over Utah. Monta Ellis led the way with 34 points and recently acquired J.J. Redick added 17, including eight in OT.
"The guy is a great shooter. ... The thing with J.J., when he shoots the ball, you expect it to go in," coach Jim Boylan said. "Whenever I see him raising up for a shot, I feel pretty good."
Ellis has been superb during the run, compiling 26.5 points per game on 51.3 percent shooting.
"(Monta) has been great," Redick said. "He's a great player when he's in attack mode like he's been in the last few games."
Brandon Jennings, meanwhile, appears focused on getting his teammates more involved. Jennings, who leads the team with 6.6 assists per game, dished out a career-high 19 in Saturday's 122-114 overtime win over Toronto, then recorded 17 and 20 points against the Jazz.
The Bucks are 23-11 when Jennings has at least six assists.
"The easiest thing in the NBA is scoring. Trying to assist and count on guys to get buckets for you is the hardest part," he said. "Everybody didn't think I could pass like this. I've always been a pass-first point guard since high school, so now we have a little more help with J.J. so I can show what I can do."
Milwaukee owns the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"I think when you play in these close games and you win, it can't help but boost your confidence," Boylan said. "We're getting more comfortable with each other out there."
The Bucks haven't won five in a row since a six-game run last March 9-20.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved