CLEVELAND, April 9 (Ticker) -- As the Cleveland Cavaliers move dangerously close to missing the playoffs, LeBron James came through to stop the slide.

James recorded his third triple-double with 40 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to lift the Cavaliers to just their second win in the last seven games, a 98-81 triumph over the Milwaukee Bucks.
NBA TV highlights from
Bucks-Cavaliers:
300k


Cleveland (39-37) remained in a seventh-place tie with Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference and leads ninth-place New Jersey by 1 1/2 games.

"Tonight, I played more aggressive because I saw New Jersey had won," James said. "This was a must-win game for us tonight because New Jersey had won and we just came through."

James scored 22 of Cleveland's 31 second-quarter points and came within one of the franchise mark for most points in a period, last set by World B. Free on April 5, 1985. He made 8-of-10 shots, including five 3-pointers.

"When this franchise wins a championship - and that's going to be an evolutionary process like it took Detroit nine years to win a championship and Chicago seven - (James) will be the guy like Michael Jordan or Isiah Thomas that a team is built around," Cleveland interim coach Brendan Malone said. "He's a great centerpiece."

James sank four straight shots from the arc in the final three minutes to give the Cavaliers a 62-39 halftime lead. He scored 28 points in the half.

"I'm always going to bring my A game," James said. "Maybe not a triple-double every night. But I'm always going to bring my A game for the rest of the season."

"The show that LeBron put on, he was shooting at a hoop that was twice the size of hula hoop," Malone said.

Michael Redd scored Milwaukee's first seven points of the third quarter and 14 in the period to help cut the deficit to 81-67.

Cleveland missed eight consecutive shots late in the fourth quarter, and Calvin Booth made a jumper with 2:11 left to bring Milwaukee within 91-81. But James responded with a 3-pointer on the next possession.

"If we could get a run going, anything could happen," Redd said. "We've seen it over and over again and we thought we had a chance."

Drew Goodenhad 24 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists and Jeff McInnis scored 22 points for the Cavaliers, who had a 29-16 edge in assists.

"I really like the work of Drew Gooden," Malone said. "The 15 rebounds was impressive. I think Jeff (McInnis) is really doing a good job at the point, pushing it, trying to (run) the fast break, and then when we don't have it, bring it out."

"Drew got us going, LeBron had a great second quarter and we just maintained," McInnis said.

Redd scored 26 points and Desmond Mason added 12 for Milwaukee, which has lost 11 straight road contests and 10 of 12 overall.

"The game was second-chance and fast-break points," Bucks coach Terry Porter said. "That's effort. Tonight, we allowed those guys to run away with the boards, get out in the open court and outrun us."