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Wrap-Up -- On Monday night in Milwaukee, the Cavaliers learned how lethal this year’s Bucks can be without the Greek Freak. Four nights later on their home floor, they saw firsthand how much more dangerous they are with him.
The Bucks’ two-time All-Star and MVP candidate dominated the game on both ends, going off for career-high-tying 44 points, 14 boards, eight assists and a pair of blocks as Milwaukee went wire-to-wire over the Cavaliers for the second time this week – taking the 114-102 decision on Friday night at The Q.
A slow start doomed the Wine & Gold in this one – netting just 16 points on 22 percent shooting in the opening period and playing catch-up the rest of the way. Cleveland trailed by as many as 17 late in the third quarter, but was never really out of the contest at any point.
Once again, the Cavaliers bench kept them in the ballgame – outscoring the starters, 52-50, on Friday night and paced once again by the squad’s leading scorer, Jordan Clarkson.
On the night, the fifth-year man from Mizzou came off the bench to lead Cleveland with 23 points, going 8-of-19 from the floor and 5-of-5 from the stripe to go with five boards, four assists and a pair of steals.
Rodney Hood followed up with 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting to go with three boards and three assists.
Larry Nance Jr. posted another rock-solid performance off the bench – tallying 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-3 from deep, leading the squad with 10 boards, six assists and three steals.
Clarkson leads Cavs with 23 points in loss to Bucks.
Alec Burks got his second straight start and finished with 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting, adding nine boards and a steal.
Matthew Dellavedova netted double-figures for the third time in as many appearances with the Wine & Gold – coming off the bench to tally 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-5 from beyond the arc, to go with five boards, three assists and a steal.
Delly also provided one of the game’s most exciting moments – diving for a loose ball and colliding with Cavaliers play-by-play man Fred McLeod, both of whom went to crashing to the ground (and escaped unscathed).
Aside from Antetokounmpo’s big night, the Bucks got 19 points from Brook Lopez and 16 more from Eric Bledsoe in the win.
Turning Point -- The game’s real turning point was the first quarter, in which the Cavaliers struggled to score. After that anemic opening period, the Bucks only outscored Cleveland by a single point the rest of the way.
But Milwaukee put the finishing touches against a scrappy Cavs squad late in the fourth quarter – squashing the Wine & Gold’s final run by closing the contest on a 10-3 run.
After trailing by two touchdowns to start the fourth quarter, the Cavs cut Milwaukee’s lead to just five – 104-99 – with 3:38 to play in regulation. But Brook Lopez scored on a layup on the Bucks next possession and Giannis converted a three-point play to put Milwaukee back ahead by double-figures.
The Cavs would cut it to single-figures just once more the rest of the way.
By the Numbers – 500 … three-pointers that Rodney Hood has now canned over the course of his career – going 3-for-7 from long-range on Friday night to reach that milestone.
Quotable – Larry Nance Jr., on Matthew Dellavedova’s hustle play, diving into the broadcasters after chasing a loose ball in the second quarter …
"We need him. That’s the type of thing that endears him to these fans and to us as teammates. You see him doing that, and it makes me want to dive on the floor. It makes J.C. (Jordan Clarkson) want to dive for a loose ball, just because you see your teammate giving everything they’ve got. We need more of that."
Up Next -- With a pair of meetings with the Bucks behind them, the Cavaliers wrap up their three-game homestand with a Sunday matinee when Joel Embiid and the Sixers make their first visit to The Q this season. The Wine & Gold then hit the road for most of the remainder of December – embarking on a three-game roadie next week, beginning with a trip to Indy to face the Pacers on Tuesday night. The following evening it’s the Cavs second trip to Charlotte this season. On Friday night, Cleveland completes the trip with their second meeting this season in Toronto before returning home for a Sunday afternoon battle with the Bulls.