Clippers try to extend home win streak vs. Bucks

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers resume their quest to improve their playoff position when they meet the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

The Clippers (40-27) have captured eight in a row at home against the Bucks, who haven't won at Staples since Dec. 4, 2007. However, the Bucks prevailed in the last meeting between the two in Milwaukee with a 112-101 victory on March 3 behind 24 points from forward Giannis Antetokoumpo.

Los Angeles is averaging almost 10 points per win during their streak against Milwaukee.

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The Clippers, who have claimed victories in four of their last six games, lost ground in their pursuit of the No. 4 seed from the Western Conference. In a rare loss at Utah, the Clippers faded in the second half of a 114-108 loss to the Jazz. Utah benefited from some hot shooting after intermission to rally.

The Jazz hit 10 consecutive 3-pointers to open the second half and finished 11 of 12 from the behind the arc in the final two quarters.

It was the first win by the Jazz this season against the Clippers and ended a nine-game losing streak to them on their home floor. The Clippers hadn't lost at Utah since Jan. 17, 2012.

The win allowed the Jazz, who hold the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference race, to increase their lead over the No. 5 Clippers by two games. If they remain fourth and fifth, the teams would face each other in the opening round of the playoffs.

If Monday's game was a prelude to a playoff matchup, it could provide some entertaining theater.

Clippers shooting guard J.J. Redick and Jazz center Rudy Gobert were involved in a minor spat, with Gobert receiving a technical foul for his part. Gobert also exchanged words later in the game with Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who also received a technical but scored a season-high 33 points and added seven assists and six rebounds.

"Just a little tussle," said Paul, according to the Los Angeles Times. "I ain't worried about him. He just talks a lot. He can play, but he just talks a lot."

The Bucks (32-34) kicked off their six-game road trip Monday with a 113-93 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Bucks also experienced some close encounters from 3-point range as Vince Carter scored 24 points on 8-of-8 shooting, six of those coming from long distance. That allowed the Grizzlies to snap a five-game skid and end the Bucks' six-game winning streak.

"This was a man's game," Bucks coach Jason Kidd told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "You had to be ready for the hit. They were going to be the desperate ones and we needed to be desperate. They controlled the whole tempo of the game; we never got out and ran. We had trouble rebounding the ball."

Rebounding has been an issue with both teams all season. The Bucks ranked 29th in the NBA -- the Dallas Mavericks were the only worst club -- with an average of 40.6 boards per game entering Tuesday.

The Clippers weren't much better, ranking 23rd at 42.9 boards per game.