James Scores 35 as Cavs Beat Bucks Again
Cleveland 96, Milwaukee 88
CLEVELAND, Jan. 7 (Ticker) -- LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers appear to have figured out the Milwaukee Bucks, who are stumbling for the first time this season.
James scored 35 points and sparked a decisive run with a pair of 3-pointers as the Cavaliers defeated the Bucks for the second time in four days, 96-88.
"We kept our turnovers down and we rebounded as a team," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "We kept battling when at any time we could have just tanked it because we went down big a couple of times. But our guys kept fighting back."
Cleveland trailed, 68-65, early in the fourth quarter but took the lead for good with a 10-1 spurt. James tied it with a 3-pointer, drained another from the arc for a 73-68 lead and found Donyell Marshall for a dunk that capped the run with 8:53 left.
"We have been getting defensive stops, getting out on runs and creating offensive problems for the other team," James said. "Anytime we get a chance to get defensive stops and get run-outs we are a great team."
Milwaukee closed to 84-80 with 4:45 remaining on a three-point play by Michael Redd, who scored 32 points. However, Redd missed an open 3-pointer on the next possession that would have made it a one-point game.
"It was (a key sequence)," Redd said. "I had a good look; I missed it."
Zydrunas Ilgauskas answered with a jumper and Marshall buried a 3-pointer for an 89-80 bulge with 3:06 to play.
The Bucks got no closer than six points thereafter as they suffered their season-high third straight loss, which can be directly attributed to fourth-quarter struggles. In its last three games, Milwaukee has been outscored, 89-55, in the final period.
"It's a combination of things," Bucks coach Terry Stotts said. "Against Cleveland in the first game, we didn't shoot the ball well. Against Chicago, they were a little more aggressive. Tonight they got hot at the right time. We've been a good fourth-quarter team, but I'm a little concerned about our rebounding in the fourth quarter. One of our goals was not to lose three in a row. We've bounced back all year, so we've got to bounce back now."
"We're starting off slow (in the fourth quarter)," Redd said. "The first couple minutes we just floundered away. It's happened to us the last few nights. We cannot afford to do that."
James made 14-of-22 shots and added seven rebounds and six assists as he lit up the Bucks for the third time this season. He scored a career-high 52 points in a 111-106 loss on December 10 and collected his sixth career triple-double in Wednesday's 91-84 victory.
"They are an up-and-coming team," James said. "We are also. We are making this out to be a little rivalry, but both teams are trying to get better and trying to catch the teams like Miami, New Jersey, and Detroit."
In three games against the Bucks this season, James is averaging 39.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 8.0 assists.
"Oh man, just a tremendous player," Redd said. "We have so much respect for each other, being from Ohio and everything. He wants to play well and I want to play well. Unfortunately, his team got the win. He got the win tonight and that's the big deal.
Marshall scored 14 points and Ilgauskas added 10 for the Cavaliers (20-11), who have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
Jamaal Magloire scored 12 points for the Bucks (17-14), who had five players in double figures but were beaten on the boards, 49-39, including a 15-6 margin on the offensive glass.
Milwaukee did welcome back quicksilver point guard T.J. Ford, who had missed the last four games with a foot sprain. Ford came off the bench and had 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
"I came in not knowing what to expect, but my body held up and I think I did a good job of pacing myself," Ford said. "I just hoped that we could have come out with a win."