Originally written on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 10/24/14
As much as the Bucks have struggled this season, especially in the second half, there is reason for optimism as the team continues its west coast road trip tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers.Once again, head coach Scott Skiles' team is among the league's best defensive squads. The Bucks are second in turnovers forced (19.2 per game), third in opponents' field goal percentage (.412), three-point field goal percentage (.269) and tenth in points allowed (91.8)."We're OK," Skiles said before the Bucks faced the Clippers Saturday. "We have a ways to go, though. During parts of the game, we're getting away from what we normally do. We're getting a little soft on the ball for instance, we're having trouble with pick-and-rolls."Skiles isn't overly concerned about the defense, both because of the overall body of work and the early nature of the season. He had said throughout training camp that the condensed nature of the season would necessitate a lot of on-the-job training, and that theory has played out so far."We've got a lot of new players trying to learn in a short amount of time," Skiles said. A victory tonight is important for Milwaukee, which dropped to 2-4 on the season with three losses in a row, including a heartbreaking 103-100 loss Thursday at Sacramento. The Bucks would like to finish the trip strong but will be challenged in back-to-back games against the Clippers and Sunday at Phoenix."Nobody wants to go home 2-6," Skiles said. "We've got to make a stand right now. A bunch of teams with around our kind of record. You can't afford this year to fall too far behind.""These are two huge games for us."All hands on deck: As has been the case for much of this trip, Skiles will be shorthanded against the Clippers. Andrew Bogut is still away from the team for personal reasons and Mike Dunleavy, Jr. is still gone with a groin injury. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute sat out Saturday with ongoing soreness in his knee and Beno Udrih was back on the bench Skiles will have first-round draft pick Tobias Harris for the first time this season. Harris hasn't been available due to the after-effects of a bout of dehydration during the preseason. The coach isn't sure what to expect from Harris, but does think he'll play a significant role with the Bucks as the season rolls along."We really have had very limited practice time," Skiles said. "We like we've seen, we just haven't seen enough yet. We look at him as an important part of the team, though."He does a bunch of things very well. he can shoot, he can handle, good size, pro athleticism which we need and he can go down in the post on smaller people."Homecoming: Saturday marked a homecoming for Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, who grew up in nearby Compton. This is the Bucks' only trip to Los Angeles this seasonIt's a little different scenario in LA these days, where the Clippers, thanks to the combination of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have become darlings of the city."The fact that this has been a Lakers town forever, it's exciting for the city," Jennings said.

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