Jamesí Triple-Double Rallies Cavs Past Bucks
Cleveland 91, Milwaukee 84
MILWAUKEE, Jan. 4 (Ticker) -- LeBron James uncovered the secret to winning at the Bradley Center. It was a triple-double, rather than a 50-point game.
James had 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists and sparked a huge fourth-quarter burst as the Cleveland Cavaliers finally solved the road riddle of the Milwaukee Bucks with a 91-84 victory, their eighth win in nine games.
"It shows we're growing as a team," James said. "I got in a comfort level and I took over the game and my guys, they were with me. They know any time I get going, they let me go and they pick up the slack. I was trying to let the game come to me, let my teammates carry me into the fourth quarter and I knew it would loosen up. I was patient. I didn't force any shots and I was able to make a run at it."
In Cleveland's last visit December 10, James exploded for a season-high 52 points. But it wasn't enough as the Cavaliers absorbed a 111-106 loss to the Bucks, who had a much more balanced attack.
On Wednesday, the Cavaliers trailed for most of the first three quarters but closed to 67-62 entering the final period on a 3-pointer by Damon Jones that started a 19-0 run that was dominated by James.
The 21-year-old superstar swingman made two free throws and - after a basket by Zydrunas Ilgauskas - made a steal and warded off Maurice Williams with one arm while flipping in a layup. His ensuing free throw gave Cleveland the lead for good at 69-67.
"I got the steal and I saw Mo Will (Williams) was going to try to foul me before I got the shot up," James said. "I did a great job of getting the ball up on the rim and it went in for me. It helps to be strong on plays like that."
James drained a pair of 3-pointers around a 3-pointer by Marshall, pushing the lead to 78-67 with 7:26 to play. Just over three minutes later, he held off a defender with one arm, grabbed the rebound with the other and put in a layup for an 83-71 bulge.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee could not make a shot. The Bucks missed their first nine attempts of the fourth quarter and had just one basket in the first 11 minutes before a late surge allowed them to match James with 17 points in the period.
It was the second triple-double of the season and sixth career for James, who made just 12-of-29 shots but also had five steals.
"I can't say he amazes me because he does what he does every night," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "He got a triple-double tonight, which was awesome. It's easy to take him for granted when he does that because it's something that seems to come naturally."
"Toronto did the same thing," James said. "They changed their defense on me and I had a triple-double on them. It's like deja vu."
Ilgauskas had 14 points and nine boards for the Cavs (19-10), who held a 19-0 edge in bench points and won despite the absence of second-leading scorer Larry Hughes, who is expected to miss eight weeks due to a broken finger that requires surgery. It was the first time since November 27, 1970 that Milwaukee's bench was scoreless.
"It's unusual," Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts said. "It doesn't happen very often that I can remember. Our bench has been very good and very productive for us. We need to get the bench in and we have all year and this is a little bit of an anomaly."
Marshall was happy to fill in with Hughes out.
"I just tried to come in and help the team," Marshall said. "Tonight we started off slow so I just tried to come in there and pick things up."
Michael Redd scored 28 points and Bobby Simmons added 18 for the Bucks (17-12), who could have caught the Cavs for second place in the rugged Central Division but had a two-game winning streak snapped.
"Huge loss, huge loss," Redd said. "It's an advantage to at least share the tiebreaker with them. It hurt us tonight, so we've got to go to Cleveland and try and win there (Saturday)."