A 13-0, fourth-quarter run enabled the Los Angeles Clippers to rally for a 105-98 win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night at the Staples Center.
It was a critical result for the Clippers, who improved to 40-34 and moved within 1 1/2 games of the Minnesota Timberwolves for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Milwaukee (39-35) still holds a five-game lead on the Detroit Pistons for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Down 88-83 after Milwaukee’s Tyler Zeller canned two free throws with 8:17 left, Los Angeles rallied behind Austin Rivers. The son of Clippers coach Doc Rivers accounted for the first 10 points in the run, scoring seven and assisting on Tobias Harris’ tiebreaking 3-pointer with 5:32 left.
Wesley Johnson capped the run with a 3-pointer at the 4:12 mark for a 96-88 lead, and Los Angeles made the lead stick.
Harris paced the Clippers with 19 points. Lou Williams came off the bench to score 16, while Austin Rivers and Milos Teodosic each tallied 13 points. DeAndre Jordan added 12 points and 16 rebounds.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 26 points for the Bucks, adding nine rebounds, seven assists and five blocked shots. Khris Middleton chipped in 22 points, while Eric Bledsoe and Jason Terry finished with 14 and 10, respectively.
The first quarter was defense-optional for both teams. Los Angeles scored 29 points in the game’s first 6:58, establishing an eight-point lead as Harris converted a running hook. However, Milwaukee finally pieced together a few stops and drew within 35-29 after one.
The Clippers started the second quarter the same way they opened the first, scoring at will and upping their advantage to 51-35 on a layup by Montrezl Harrell with 6:56 remaining. However, the Bucks worked their way back into contention and closed within 62-56 at the half after Middleton canned a floater with 8.1 seconds left.
Milwaukee clamped down defensively in the third quarter, limiting Los Angeles to 16 points. The Bucks scored the last nine points of the quarter, Antetokounmpo capping the run with a free throw with 3.3 seconds remaining to give Milwaukee an 82-78 edge.
—Field Level Media