Final Dime: Cavaliers 83, Bucks 81
Mo Williams drives for two of his game-high 25 points in Wednesday's win.
David Liam Kyle
Returning home after dropping three straight, Cavalier fans haven’t had much to cheer about over the past week. Mo Williams changed all that on Wednesday night – capping a fourth quarter comeback with a buzzer-beater to give the Wine and Gold the thrilling 83-81 win at The Q.
Cleveland trailed by as many as eight early in the fourth quarter, but Mo’s jumper with 4:24 remaining tied the game at 77. Two minutes later, Drew Gooden tied the game at 81-apiece with a pair of free throws. Neither team scored in the next two minutes before a Corey Maggette pass gave the Cavaliers the ball back with 23.7 to play.
With one to give, Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings fouled Mo on the ensuing possession. With 5.3 seconds to play, Anthony Parker in-bounded to the ball to Mo, who dribbled twice, pulled up and calmly drained the game-winning 15-footer. As the crowd went wild, Williams jumped on the scorer’s table to join them.
“Even as a kid, you always count down before you shoot it – everybody’s been there, done that,” beamed Mo after the win. “It’s a lot of pressure to take those shots. You have to be willing to take them and make them and you have to be willing to take them and miss, as well.”
Mo and the Cavaliers got off to another slow start. Cleveland notched just 34 points in the first half, with Mo going 2-for-7 before intermission.
But the former ‘Bama star began heating up in third quarter and began boiling in the final period – notching 21 of his game-high 25 in the second half.
For the game, Mo finished 11-of-22 from the floor, including 2-of-6 from beyond the arc. Williams added four boards, five assists and a steal.
“(Mo) didn’t play really well last night, but neither did a lot of guys on our team,” said Byron Scott. “We had a little conversation this afternoon about him being a little bit more assertive, a little bit more aggressive and I thought he did just that on both ends of the floor tonight.”
The Cavaliers got solid scoring from starters Williams and Parker – who finished with 14 points – but it was their defense that allowed them to snap the three-game skein. After allowing 68 points through the first three quarters, the Bucks were limited to 13 points on 21 percent shooting in the fourth.
The only other Cavalier in double-figures was Daniel Gibson, who survived a second-half shoulder scare that sent him to the locker room. Boobie returned, but missed his final two three-point attempts. The former Longhorn still managed to go 5-for-11 from the floor for 12 points.
In a game where neither team shot particularly well, it stood to reason that the final shot might win the ballgame. There were nine ties and 11 lead-changes and neither squad managed a double-digit edge after intermission.
The Cavaliers will get Thanksgiving off before returning to the road for a Friday night faceoff against the Magic in Orlando.
2. The Wine and Gold have won 12 of their last 13 contests against Milwaukee at The Q.
3. The Cavaliers are now 2-3 on the second night of a back-to-back and 1-2 against the Central Division.
4. Drew Gooden, playing with his sixth team since leaving Cleveland, returned with the Bucks. Gooden – one of the league’s true good guys – started 292 games with Cleveland from 2004 through 2008.
5. Although he struggled on Wednesday night, J.J. Hickson has enjoyed the home cooking this season. The third-year forward averages 14.8 ppg at The Q, 10.4 ppg on the road.
6. In a vast departure from years past, the Cavaliers have had six different players lead them in scoring this year
7. For just the second time this season, the Cavaliers bench was outscored. (That’s not an altogether bad thing.) But no team in the NBA has had the bench scoring increase like the Wine and Gold. Their reserves scoring has gone from 29.8 ppg to 46.9 – a 17.1-point difference. That’s double the next team back. (Philadelphia, +8.3)
8. Anderson Varejao notched double-digit rebounds for the sixth time in 11 games this season, grabbing a season-high 13 boards to go with six points, two assists and a pair of blocks.
9. Anthony Parker scored a season-high 14 points in Wednesday’s win.
10. Cavaliers rookie Christian Eyenga was in street clothes behind the Cavaliers bench, but wasn’t officially called up from the D-League’s Erie Bayhawks. Coach Byron Scott explained …
“It’s Thanksgiving – (he) came back for some turkey. Some of the young guys who don’t really have a place to go, I invited them over to have some Thanksgiving,” smiled Scott before adding, “(Eyenga)’s just back for a dinner, then we’re going to let him go back (to Erie) and play some more.”
Joe Gabriele is the official beat writer for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Cavs.com. You can follow Joe and send him your questions on Twitter at @CavsJoeG.