The Milwaukee Bucks are in high spirits as they try to record their first seven-game win streak in eight seasons Wednesday night and hand the Los Angeles Clippers a ninth straight loss.
Milwaukee (36-29) is beginning a three-game trip after winning 12 of 13 to build the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks are poised to reach the postseason for the first time in four years as they try to win seven in a row for the first time since an eight-game run Jan. 8-21, 2002.
"Everybody's confidence is real high right now," rookie guard Brandon Jennings said. "I know a lot of people doubted us at the beginning of the season, had us almost (finishing) last. But we're here, too. We're fighting for a spot in the playoffs, too. So don't forget about us."
Jennings has made a seamless transition from playing in Europe last year out of high school as the only Buck to start every game. He's averaging 15.8 points.
That figure is second to center Andrew Bogut's 16.2 points per game. Bogut was named Eastern Conference player of the week Monday after averaging 19.3 points, 13.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in home wins over Boston, Utah and Indiana.
Bogut is trying to do his part to help the Bucks remain focused.
"We still have a long way to go as a franchise," Bogut said. "We haven't achieved anything yet."
The mood is completely different for Los Angeles (25-43), which is 4-15 since Kim Hughes replaced Mike Dunleavy as coach Feb. 4, and 0-4 since Neil Olshey assumed Dunleavy's duties as general manager March 9.
The Clippers are on their longest skid since a 12-game run Dec. 20, 2008-Jan. 14, 2009 that began with a 119-85 road loss to the Bucks. Milwaukee and Los Angeles have split the last two season series.
Like Milwaukee, Los Angeles' top two scorers are a center and a guard but neither Chris Kaman nor Eric Gordon played well in Monday's 108-100 home loss to New Orleans.
Kaman, averaging 18.8 points, missed 10 of his first 11 shots and was 3 for 15 overall for eight points in 31 minutes.
"He just couldn't hit a jump shot tonight. That was basically it," said Gordon, who averages 17.1 points. "He missed so many shots, but that happens sometimes. When you miss that many shots, you put yourselves out of it and it gives them a lot more opportunities. Luckily we were still in the game."
Gordon also struggled, missing all seven shots from 3-point range. He went 3 for 12 overall with 10 points after missing the previous five games with a groin injury.
"I was moving around pretty good and getting to the rim, but my timing was off on my jumper," Gordon said. "I hadn't been shooting that much in the past week because they kept me off the court and told me to rest it. That's why I was rusty on my jump shot."
Gordon made 5 of 19 shots for a total of 18 points last season against the Bucks. It marked his first meetings with Milwaukee assistant coach Kelvin Sampson, his college coach at Indiana.