Furious Fourth Quarter Rally Falls Short

Cavs Erase Late 20-Point Deficit But Can't Close the Deal in Milwaukee
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images

Wrap-Up -- If they didn’t already know, the young Bucks learned something about their battle-tested Central Division rivals on Tuesday night: If the Cavaliers are going down, they’re going down swinging.

Trailing by 20 points – 103-83 – with just under 11 minutes to play, the Wine & Gold’s second unit mounted a furious rally, only to have it answered right back by the Bucks – with a freakish play involving the Greek Freak sealing the deal late as Cleveland dropped a 119-116 thriller in Milwaukee.

The Bucks took a double-digit lead late in the second quarter and maintained that edge throughout the third – scoring the first five points of the fourth period to make it an even 20.

But the Cavaliers’ surging second unit – led by Dwyane Wade, Jeff Green and Tristan Thompson, playing his most effective minutes since returning to the lineup – brought an aggressive energy to the contest, propelling Cleveland on a 24-2 run capped by Wade’s triple with 5:11 to play that gave Tyronn Lue’s squad its first lead of the second half.

The Bucks wouldn’t fold, however, answering with a 13-6 run of their own – finished off by the weirdest play of the night – to take back a five-point advantage, 118-113.

With 5.9 to play and the Cavaliers trailing by just a deuce, LeBron James had a chance to grab Tony Snell’s missed jumper, but the loose ball trickled between his legs and was picked up by Giannis Antetokuonmpo, who swooped to the basket, was fouled by Kyle Korver and hit the tax to put the contest practically out of reach.

The loss snapped a string of five straight wins for the Cavaliers over the Bucks and a five-game string they’d put together after having a 13-gamer snapped two Fridays ago in Indiana.

LeBron – whose only fourth-quarter action came in the final 3:38 – led both squads with 39 points, going 14-for-22 from the floor, including 6-of-11 from long-range and 5-of-5 from the stripe, adding seven assists, three steals and a pair of blocks.

Kevin Love tallied 19 of his 21 points in the first half – going 8-of-15 from the floor, 5-for-11 from deep – netting his 20th double-double of the season with 10 boards to go with four assists and a steal.

Cleveland got another big performance from their bench on Tuesday.

Dwyane Wade, who played his college ball for Marquette here at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, returned to the lineup after missing Sunday’s contest and finished with 14 points on 4-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc – netting nine of his 14 in the final period, adding four boards, two assists and a pair of steals.

Jeff Green


Balanced scoring attack not enough to complete the comeback in Milwaukee.

Jeff Green followed up with 13 points on 3-for-5 shooting, going 7-fo-9 from the line to go with four boards. And Tristan Thompson finally looked like himself while working back into game-shape after 19 games on the shelf – finishing with nine points on 3-of-4 shooting, adding five boards, two helpers and a steal in 18 high-energy minutes off the bench.

The Bucks were led by their own MVP candidate, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 27 points on 8-for-14 shooting, grabbing a game-high 14 boards to go with eight assists and a pair of steals.

Eric Bledsoe, who wasn’t yet in a Bucks uniform when these teams faced off twice earlier this season, finished with 26 points while his backup, Malcolm Brogdon, led all reserves with 16 points on 4-for-7 shooting from deep.

The Bucks shot 52 percent from the floor compared to an even 50 percent for the Wine & Gold. The Cavs extended their streak of canning at least 10 triples to 21 straight games, going 16-for-41 from deep, while the Bucks did their damage on the break – outrunning Cleveland, 24-3, on the night.

Turning Point -- The Cavaliers jumped all over Milwaukee early on Tuesday night, taking an 11-point edge before the first official timeout. But the Bucks found their footing and trailed by only four after one period.

In the second, it was all Bucks. Malcolm Brogdon’s three-pointer with 8:18 to play in the half gave Milwaukee its first lead – and Jason Kidd’s squad would proceed to close the quarter on a 28-18 run from there, taking an 11-point advantage into the locker room.

The Bucks would retain that double-digit edge throughout the third and they’d need all of it – with the Wine & Gold bringing their big guns for a fourth-quarter surge that fell just short.

By the Numbers1 … games that the Cavaliers have lost this season – Tuesday’s in Milwaukee – when Jae Crowder tallies double-figures. He finished with 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting against the Bucks, snapping a 13-game run to start the season.

QuotableCoach Tyronn Lue, praising his second unit in Tuesday night’s loss …

”I thought it was our defensive energy. They played great defense and brought us back in the second half. We were able to get stops and get out in transition. (We were) able to move the basketball and get easy shots and easy baskets. Dwyane Wade carried the load in the second half.”

Up Next -- After falling to the Bucks on Tuesday night, the Cavaliers return home to The Q – someplace they won’t be seeing much of over the next three weeks. On Thursday, Cleveland welcomes the suddenly-hot Bulls to town in the final game before a West Coast trip that sends them to Golden State for their annual Christmas Day Finals rematch. After taking on the Steph Curry-less Warriors, the Cavs travel to Sacramento for a battle with the Kings two nights later and close out the junket on LeBron James’ 33rd birthday next Saturday night in Salt Lake City.

Calls of the Game

#CavsBucks Postgame: Kevin Love - December 19, 2017

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love spoke with the media following Tuesday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Cavs at Bucks - November 19, 2017

Scroll Video up Scroll Video down Scroll Video left Scroll Video right

#CavsBucks Postgame: Kevin Love - December 19, 2017

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love spoke with the media following Tuesday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Dec 20, 2017  |  02:17

#CavsBucks Postgame: Jeff Green - December 19, 2017

Cavaliers forward LeBron James spoke with the media following Tuesday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Dec 20, 2017  |  01:41

#CavsBucks Postgame: Dwyane Wade - December 19, 2017

Cavaliers guard Dwyane Wade spoke with the media following Tuesday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Dec 20, 2017  |  03:03

#CavsBucks Postgame: LeBron James - December 19, 2017

Cavaliers forward LeBron James spoke with the media following Tuesday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Dec 19, 2017  |  03:20

#CavsBucks Postgame: Coach Lue - December 19, 2017

Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue spoke with the media following Tuesday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Dec 19, 2017  |  02:11

GAME RECAP: Bucks 119, Cavaliers 116

Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the Bucks to a 119-116 win against the Cavaliers with a double-double of 27 points and 13 rebounds.
Dec 19, 2017  |  02:30

LBJ with the Clutch And-One

LeBron James hits the off-balance shot, plus the foul, to give the Cavs a late lead in the fourth.
Dec 19, 2017  |  00:12

Wade Hits Clutch Back-to-Back Threes

Dwyane Wade cans two triples as the Cavs regain the lead in the fourth quarter.
Dec 19, 2017  |  00:22

Green with the Hoop and the Harm

Jeff Green takes it strong into the lane and gets the bucket to fall, plus the foul.
Dec 19, 2017  |  00:22

LeBron James Scores 39 vs. Bucks | December 19, 2017

LeBron James drops 39 points and dishes out seven assists in the Cavaliers loss to the Bucks.
Dec 19, 2017  |  02:04

LBJ Throws the Hammer Down

LeBron James darts past the Bucks defense and crushes home the slam.
Dec 19, 2017  |  00:10

LBJ Swats Delly

LeBron James tracks down Matthew Dellavedova and sends his layup attempt away.
Dec 19, 2017  |  00:10

Green with the Chase Down Block

Jeff Green hustles back on defense and comes up with the chase down block in this Goodyear 'More Driven' highlight.
Dec 19, 2017  |  00:16

Wade Lobs Tristan

Dwyane Wade finds Tristan Thompson for the pretty high-handoff.
Dec 19, 2017  |  00:08

Featured Highlight: Green Rocks the Rim

Jeff Green blows past the Bucks defense and throws the hammer down.
Dec 19, 2017  |  00:10

Swish Shakes the Defense

JR Smith dances on the defense and cans the stepback jumper.
Dec 19, 2017  |  00:09

LBJ Spins and Scores

LeBron James leaves the Bucks defense in the dust with this pretty spin move for the layup.
Dec 19, 2017  |  00:18

#CavsBucks Shootaround: LeBron James - December 19, 2017

Cavaliers forward LeBron James spoke with the media prior to Tuesday's shootaround at BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
Dec 19, 2017  |  02:38

#CavsBucks Shootaround: Dwyane Wade - December 19, 2017

Cavaliers guard Dwyane Wade spoke with the media prior to Tuesday's shootaround at BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
Dec 19, 2017  |  04:14

#CavsBucks Shootaround: Coach Lue - December 19, 2017

Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue spoke with the media prior to Tuesday's shootaround at BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
Dec 19, 2017  |  01:12