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Shorthanded Clippers Fall to Bucks, 128-118

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The Clippers fought valiantly, but the result was a foregone conclusion.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucks have been the best team in the NBA this season. As good as the Clippers have been, a road game in Milwaukee is as close to a thing as a “schedule loss” as we’ve seen this season. This is all the more so since Pat Beverley was ruled out with a hip injury (which he suffered last game against the Timberwolves), and Lou Williams was subsequently sat for rest. Lou’s sitting was a tacit admission that the Clippers didn’t they had much a shot at winning this one, and while they played hard, the game was virtually over by halftime.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (34 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 12-14 FT shooting) and Khris Middleton (39 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 16-25 FG shooting) were simply way too big and talented for the Clippers to handle, as they were able to get whatever shots they wanted with ease. The Clippers, down 23 points entering the 4th quarter, made a desperate push led by some hot shooting from Wilson Chandler, but never really had a chance to win it.

Notes:

Landry Shamet returns, plays well: After missing 1.5 games with an ankle impingement, Landry Shamet returned tonight, and played well, scoring 13 points on 4-9 shooting (4-6 from deep) and dishing 4 assists. He seemed to be moving well enough, using his trademark speed and change of direction to get open off of screens, and canning his looks from three. The Clippers need Shamet’s shooting and off-ball movement down the stretch, and it’s a great sign that he returned so quickly from his injury, which looked rough when it happened live.

Jerome Robinson gets significant minutes: Jerome Robinson hasn’t seen much action in the NBA this year, buried behind numerous veterans. Today, with Lou and Beverley out, Jerome played over 22 minutes, the second-most he’s received in the NBA all season. Jerome didn’t put up a crazy statline (9 points on 3-5 shooting and 2-4 from deep), but looked as comfortable as he has all season, and didn’t force anything. Fans have been clamoring for him to get minutes, and while he probably won’t get much barring further injuries, today was a good step in the right direction.

Shai dazzles: With Beverley and Lou out, this game was all about the Clippers’ rookie guards, and the most impressive of the lot had himself quite a showing. Shai dropped midrange shots over smaller defenders, made several of his trademark scoop layups and tough finishes around the basket, had a couple monstrous blocks, and gave some gorgeous passes. Really, he looked like the complete package against one of the best teams (and defenses) in the NBA, with his length, athleticism, and instincts all looking on point. Shai continues to grow game to game, and it’s absolutely remarkable how composed he is as a rookie point guard. The kid is special, and in a season where there weren’t two rookies putting up historic statlines on a nightly basis (Luka Doncic and Trae Young), he’d have forced his way into the Rookie of the Year debate.