Final Dime: Cavaliers 101, Bucks 98
Mo Williams finished with 21 points in Wednesday's win at The Q.
David Liam Kyle
But in that final minute, LeBron James and Mo Williams were perfect in six attempts, willing the Wine and Gold to the 101-98 win in a thriller over the upstart Bucks at The Q.
Ersan Ilyasova’s three-pointer with 1:39 to play gave the Bucks a two-point lead in a back-and-forth final period. But 50 seconds later, LeBron sank a pair of free throws to tie the game at 95-apiece. After a John Salmons’ miss, LeBron scored on a layup to give the Cavaliers’ a two-point lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Salmons canned a three-pointer to draw Milwaukee back to within a point with 8.6 to play, but the Bucks were forced to foul Mo Williams – who calmly sank the game’s final points to seal the Cavaliers’ 59th win of the season.
LeBron led the Cavaliers with 23 points, going 7-of-17 from the floor with nine boards and seven assists.
Mo followed up with 21 points on an even 6-for-12 shooting. Williams was 7-for-8 from the line, adding six assists and a game-high three steals without committing a single turnover in 31 minutes of play.
“I just have to lock in and knock (free throws) down,” said Mo, following the win. “I don’t have the leeway to miss those free throws. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make free throws in those situations.”
J.J. Hickson was strong on both ends of the floor, pitching in with 14 points and six boards. Hickson also made a pair of strong defensive plays in the closing minutes of the game, including forcing a key turnover with just 13.3 seconds to play.
Delonte West came off Mike Brown’s bench to net 12 points and six assists. Antawn Jamison doubled up for the Cavaliers – tallying 12 points and 12 boards in 35 efficient minutes.
Neither team shot particularly well from the floor, with Wednesday’s game essentially decided at the stripe. The Cavaliers shot just 64 percent from the line, but attempted 45 free throws. The Bucks shot 89 percent, but attempted just nine free throws on the night – including a grand total of zero in the fourth quarter.
“That’s a real good team they have and they continue to play hard throughout the game,” said LeBron. “When we got down we still continued to attack and we got to the free throw line 45 times. Even though we didn’t shoot them well, it gave us chances to add points.”
John Salmons led everyone with 28 points, but it wasn’t enough as the Wine and Gold exacted a bit of revenge for a LeBron-less loss to the Bucks on March 6 in Milwaukee.
With just seven games to go, the Cavaliers face the second of four straight Eastern Conference playoff teams this Friday night when they welcome Josh Smith and the Hawks to The Q.
2. While warming up for Wednesday’s matchup, former Cavalier, Darnell Jackson – released when Zydrunas Ilgauskas rejoined the club – got a warm reception from his former teammates. Jackson signed with the Bucks on March 25, but will be ineligible for their postseason appearance.
3. Before Wednesday’s game, Shaquille O’Neal’s mom – Lucille – signed copies of her new book, “Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go.” The Diesel even joined her on the Quicken Loans Arena concourse while she signed.
4. With the win, the Cavaliers take the season series, 3-1, over Milwaukee. Since 2003-04, the Wine and Gold have won 13 of their last 14 meetings with the Bucks at The Q.
5. Cleveland improved to 12-2 (.857) against the Central Division this season. They will finish the season with the largest gap between Divisional teams – improving their lead to 17.5 games over Milwaukee with the win.
6. J.J. Hickson had another efficient effort on Wednesday and has notched double-figures in six of his last seven games – shooting .636 from the floor during that span.
7. Speaking of J.J., the Cavaliers lead the league in converted dunks with 380. The Bucks are on the opposite end of the spectrum with 164 – just four more than last-place Houston.
8. For just the third time in their last six outings the Cavaliers topped the century mark. The Cavaliers are now 44-2 this season when they score 100 points or more.
9. With the win, Cleveland finished March with a 13-2 mark, which ties November 2008 and December 1998 for the third-best winning percentage in one month in team history. Over the past two seasons, the Cavaliers are 19-3 in the month of March.
10. Luke Ridenour will be happy that he doesn’t have to face Delonte West for the rest of the regular season. West cooked the Bucks guard for 13 straight points in an early December win, and in four games against Milwaukee, is averaging 18.0 on .614 shooting off the bench.