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The story of Saturday’s matchup isn’t a complicated one – the banged-up Cavaliers were simply out of bodies – and out of gas – wrapping up the longest roadie of the first half with a valiant effort that came up just short.
The Wine & Gold – playing without their regular starting backcourt, for starters – could have folded at any point, clawing back repeatedly before Milwaukee simply wore Cleveland down late to take the 100-90 decision at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.
The Cavaliers – playing without both Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, along with Kevin Love, Matthew Dellavedova, Dante Exum, Kevin Porter Jr. and Dylan Windler – fell behind by double-digits early and climbed uphill the rest of the night.
In fairness to the Bucks, they were without the reigning two-time MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, Giannis Antetokounmpo – out with back spasms.
Andre Drummond continued his outstanding start to the season with a monster night – finishing with 26 points and a NBA-season-best 24 boards, going 11-of-23 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the stripe, adding three assists, a steal and a blocked shot.
Damyean Dotson, getting his second straight start at the point, added a season-high 21 points on 8-for-17 shooting, handing out a game-high eight assists in the process.
Larry Nance Jr. notched 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-6 from long-range, adding three boards, two assists and four steals.
With the Greek Freak on the shelf, Khris Middleton picked up the scoring slack for Milwaukee, leading both teams with 27 points on 10-for-16 shooting. Bobby Portis doubled-up with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
Damyean Dotson gets the steal on defense, goes the length of the floor, and converts the lay-up through contact for a chance at a three point play.
The Cavs lost by double-digits, but were never really out of the game in the second half on Saturday night. That’s because they kept themselves in the game early with a gutsy second-quarter run.
With just under 10 minutes to play in the second, D.J. Wilson’s triple put the Bucks up 19 – 35-16 – and the road-weary Cavaliers looked like they’d literally hit the end of the road. But Andre Drummond wouldn’t have it – scoring nine straight points, part of his 13 points and eight boards in the period.
When Drummond scored on a floater with 3:12 to play in the half, the Cavs had gone on a 19-0 run to tie the game at 37-apiece.
Unfortunately, the Bucks would close the period by scoring the half’s final 10 points.
By the Numbers – 42 … career games that Andre Drummond has notched at least 20 points and 20 boards, including his fourth against the Bucks.
The NBA’s leading rebounder at 14.3rpg, Drummond has piled up 188 career games of at least 15 points and 15 boards.
"I feel really good about this team. The things that we say matter the most to us our guys have continued to show. They are competitive, they are selfless, they are together. We just ran into something that was difficult to overcome."
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and Rafa Hernandez-Brito from Power 89.1.
With the prolonged junket in their rearview mirror, the Wine & Gold return to play five of their next seven at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
On Monday night, the Cavs welcome the first of two Western Conference squads – trying for the season sweep of the Grizzlies before welcoming Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson and the Jazz the following night. The Knicks roll in on Friday to close out the quick three-game homestand.
The following week, Cleveland travels to Washington for a back-to-back against the Wizards – including a matinee on MLK Day – and return home for a two-game set against the Nets.