LOS ANGELES (AP) — Blake Griffin had 22 points and 14 rebounds, Caron Butler scored 20 points against the team he suffered a season-ending injury against last January, and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the severely undermanned Milwaukee Bucks 92-86 on Saturday night.
Chauncey Billups added 19 points for the Clippers in a chippy game that resulted in a combined 54 fouls, including a flagrant 1 against Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders for his hard takedown of Butler on an attempted layup with 1:38 left in the third quarter. Chris Paul had nine points and seven assists.
Brandon Jennings scored 21 points and had seven assists for the Bucks, who have lost four straight. They played their third in a row without center Andrew Bogut, who is in Australia attending to personal matters with his family. Teammate Luc Mbah a Moute, who helped UCLA reach the Final Four in 2008, missed his third in a row because of tendinitis in his right knee.
In addition, swingman Mike Dunleavy Jr. was sidelined by a groin problem, reserve guard Beno Udrih also sat out with an injured left shoulder, and reserve forward Jon Brockman left the game for good midway through the second quarter because of a bruised left eye.
Drew Gooden again started in Bogut’s place, contributing 18 points and 13 rebounds in 29 minutes.
Paul took a breather after getting his fourth foul with 2:17 left in the third quarter and Los Angeles leading 65-59. He was replaced by Randy Foye, who had played only six minutes to that point despite his 14-point fourth quarter in Wednesday’s 117-89 win over Houston.
The Clippers still had a four-point lead when Paul reported back in with 9:55 remaining, and they stayed in front the rest of the way, as Paul hit a 20-footer with 2:23 remaining to help clinch it.
Milwaukee led 40-38 at halftime despite shooting 35 percent. The Clippers took charge in the third quarter with a 14-2 run that gave them Clippers their biggest lead, 63-50, with 4:48 left in the period. Paul had three assists early in the rally, one of them on an 18-footer by Billups and another on a 3-pointer by his backcourt mate.
The 3-point shooting was poor at both ends of the court. The Clippers missed their first nine attempts — all in the first half — and finished 4 for 19. The Bucks were 6 for 20 after missing 10 of their first 12 from behind the arc.
Forward Reggie Evans grabbed six rebounds in his Clippers debut after being sidelined for the first five games of the season because of a sprained right foot. The ninth-year veteran averaged a career-high 11.5 rebounds in 30 games with Toronto last season, and is a much-needed addition to a lineup that entered Saturday averaging a league-worst 35 boards.
The last time Butler played against the Bucks, on New Year’s Day 2011 with Dallas, he ruptured a tendon in his right knee while going for an offensive rebound at Milwaukee. He underwent surgery and missed the rest of the Mavericks’ championship season, then signed with the Clippers as a free agent.
After missing 11 of their first 12 shots, the Bucks shrugged off a seven-point deficit and took their first lead 38 seconds into the second quarter on a layup by Brandon Jennings that put them ahead 19-17. Clippers reserve guard Ryan Gomes picked up three fouls in his first 7 minutes on the floor and was back on the bench with 10:18 left in the half.
Notes: The Bucks are off to their first 0-5 start on the road since 2004-05, when they dropped their first seven. … This was the only meeting this season between the Bucks and Clippers, due to the reconfigured 66-game schedule caused by the lockout. … Paul extended his streak to 15 consecutive games with at least one steal when he stripped the ball from Gooden with 4:16 left in the second quarter. … Gooden spent the latter part of the 2009-10 season with the Clippers before signing with the Bucks as a free agent.