Reserve Matt Barnes has been an unlikely source of production lately for the sizzling Los Angeles Clippers, who target their ninth straight win Saturday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Barnes is averaging 12 ppg in his last eight and recorded 19 points in a 100-94 victory at Charlotte on Wednesday. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul also scored 19 points in L.A.'s eighth straight win and second in a row on this four-game road trip, which culminates Monday at Detroit.
Paul also dished out 10 assists, while Eric Bledsoe added 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench for the Clippers, who have won eight in a row three times since the late 1970s. Clips top reserve Jamal Crawford, who had scored in double figures in 28 straight games, was held to nine points.
"We're playing hard right now, but we're not satisfied," Paul said. "We just have to keep playing the right way to keep this thing (the winning streak) going."
The franchise mark for consecutive victories is 11 straight games accomplished by the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves. Los Angeles has scored 100-plus points in seven of its last eight games and is 12-0 when holding teams to 43 percent shooting or worse.
The Clippers have won three in a row away from home and are 6-3 as the guest.
Meanwhile, the Bucks are winners of four straight, highlighted by Friday's 90-86 victory at Cleveland over the Cavaliers.
Monta Ellis scored a season-high 33 points and Larry Sanders returned from illness with 10 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots, a category in which he leads the league.
The Bucks forced an NBA-best 27 turnovers on Friday night. The Cavs crawled back into competitiveness, but this night belonged to the Bucks, who won their season-best fourth in a row.
"They came back a couple of times, but (Ellis) had the hot hand and kept us in it offensively. He had it going," Bucks head coach Scott Skiles said of his starting shooting guard.
With key players like Mike Dunleavy and Tobias Harris still on the shelf, Ellis and Brandon Jennings have responded. Ellis has averaged 21.8 ppg during the winning streak and Jennings 19.0 ppg. Both are handing out more than 6.0 apg.
Milwaukee lost its only meeting with the Clippers a season ago, dropping a 92-86 decision at Staples Center. Griffin totaled 22 points and 14 rebounds in that one for L.A., which has won 10 of the last 14 matchups in this series and will host the Bucks on March 6.