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Basketball / Sports

Clippers stop Bucks, 114-86

MILWAUKEE -- Ersan Ilyasova faced a daunting task Monday night.

All the Milwaukee Bucks power forward had to do was defend Blake Griffin, the incredibly gifted athlete and Western Conference all-star starter.

One other thing. The Bucks also would be relying on Ilyasova's scoring against the high-powered Los Angeles Clippers.

Ilyasova tried hard on both counts, but he and his teammates could not do much to slow down the Clippers as the Bucks fell, 114-86, Monday night before a crowd of 11,126 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Milwaukee (8-36) lost by 25 or more points for the third time in the last five games and trailed by as many as 39 points in the fourth quarter. The Clippers (32-15) used 25 points by Jamal Crawford and 20 by Griffin as they finished a long road trip with a 5-2 record.

Ilyasova admitted his job was a challenging one.

"He's one of the top players in the NBA," Ilyasova said. "It's really hard to play against him. When you play against guys like this, it's a team effort defensively because he's a real load when he gets the ball in the post.

"I think I did a really good job before I got in foul trouble."

The fans who braved the subzero temperatures to make the trip downtown wanted to see Griffin throw down a few dunks, and he obliged with three of the Clippers' seven dunks.

But it's clear that Griffin is making great improvements in his game in his fourth pro season, now under the tutelage of coach Doc Rivers.

"He's always been a dynamic scorer in the post and now he's making his free throws, he's making the 17-footer and stretching it out," said Bucks forward Caron Butler, who played the past two seasons with the Clippers.

"The sky is the limit for him. He's playing at an MVP-candidate pace right now. When you lose a guy like Chris Paul, a general out there and another coach on the floor, and don't miss a beat, you've got to give a lot of credit to the other guy, and that's Blake Griffin."

Ilyasova remarkably led the Bucks with 16 points despite connecting on just 6 of 22 shots and only 1 of 6 from three-point range.

"Sometimes you have to go through a patch like this," Ilyasova said. "All I have to do is try to shoot my way out of it.

"It's really disappointing. It's layups, tips, in and out. It's all about emotion and the situation we're going through right now.

"Basketball is an emotional game and when you're going through things, everything can affect you. I've just got to make the jump shot and just fix it."

Ilyasova ranked fourth in the league in three-point percentage last season (44.4 percent). But he is just 20 of 81 from beyond the arc (24.7 percent).

Butler said Ilyasova has to remain confident.

"Keep shooting, stay aggressive," Butler said. "The worst thing is when you pass up looks. One night they're all going to fall. You have a huge night and propel us to a win and ride that momentum on out."

The Bucks shot only 38.2 percent as a team (34 of 89) and point guard Brandon Knight also struggled with 3-of-12 shooting and nine points.

Darren Collison had 15 points and former Bucks guard J.J. Redick added 14 for the Clippers. DeAndre Jordan contributed 18 rebounds.

"Being down to three bigs is tough against a team like that because you're going to have to use fouls against those guys," Bucks coach Larry Drew said.

Center Larry Sanders and guard O.J. Mayo were unavailable due to illness and forward-center Ekpe Udoh was out with a sprained left ankle.

Miroslav Raduljica came off the Bucks bench at center and had 11 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes.

"I thought our energy was better," Drew said after he questioned his team's effort in its loss to Atlanta on Saturday. "I thought we played harder. You're playing against a really good team, and the focus has to be to correct the things you need to correct."

(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Distributed by MCT Information Services


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