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The Cavaliers are enjoying an outstanding start to the season, but that’s no thanks to the onerous schedule they’ve played so far – and after going toe-to-toe with a pair of heavyweights on back-to-back nights, J.B. Bickerstaff’s young squad simply ran out of steam over the closing moments in Milwaukee.
One night after rallying back from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit in a narrow home loss to Utah, the Cavaliers shaved a 13-point second-half lead to just a single point in the fourth quarter again on Monday. But Cleveland went cold after the rally, and the World Champs pulled away late for the 112-104 win at Fiserv Forum.
The Cavs canned 15 triples and were 19-of-20 from the stripe, but Milwaukee – which welcomed Giannis Antetokounmpo back to the lineup – controlled the boards, 53-39, and outran Cleveland on the break, 19-5.
The Cavaliers kept the two-time MVP in check for most of the night, but he exploded for 15 of his game-high 27 points in the final quarter and turned up the heat defensively as the Bucks extinguished Cleveland’s fourth quarter surge.
Jarrett Allen led the way for Cleveland with 25 points, going 10-for-12 from the floor and 5-for-5 from the stripe, adding nine boards and a pair of blocks.
Lauri Markkanen was solid on both ends in Monday’s matchup, following up with 20 points on 7-for-15 shooting, including 4-of-9 from long-range, adding seven boards, a pair of assists and a block.
All 11 shot attempts that Kevin Love took were from beyond the arc, and he canned five of them, finishing with 15 points in 19 minutes off the bench, adding four boards and three assists.
Overall, the Cavs got very good production off their bench. Ricky Rubio finished with seven points and nine assists, Cedi Osman pitched in with seven points and tallied all three of his steals in the fourth quarter and Lamar Stevens canned a pair of big triples to go with two second-half steals.
Aside from Allen and Markkanen, the Cavs other starters struggled on Monday, with Evan Mobley, Darius Garland and Isaac Okoro combining to go 6-for-28 from the floor. Both Mobley and Garland were able to notch double-figures; Okoro took the collar in six shot attempts.
For Milwaukee, the Greek Freak, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday all topped the 20-point plateau and Bobby Portis led both squads with 16 boards in the win.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
Evan Mobley has to reach all the way back for this one handed catch before he goes up and throws down a two-handed jam late in the half.
The Bucks led by 13 points midway through the third quarter and by 10 at the end of three. But Cleveland wouldn’t roll over and made its push to start the fourth period.
Once again, it was Cedi Osman who ignited the rally, canning a triple to start the run and cutting Milwaukee’s lead to just three at the 8:49 mark. Jarrett Allen’s dunk cut the Bucks’ edge to 88-87 to cap the 9-0 run, but that’s as close as the Cavs would get in their second straight loss.
By the Numbers - 25 … assists that Ricky Rubio needs to reach 5,000 for his career, becoming just one of 11 active players to do so.
Chris Paul is at the top of that list with 10,508, followed by LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. The player directly in front of Rubio on the list was his opponent on Monday night (and in Tokyo), Jrue Holiday.
”I think he’s in a great place both physically and mentally. His ability to make shots helps spread the floor, plus his ability to pass and play-make. But it’s a tribute to how he takes care of himself and prepares himself to play every night.”
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and Rafa Hernandez-Brito from Power 89.1.
The Cavaliers continue their busy week of basketball on Wednesday, welcoming the Bulls to town for a big Central Division showdown at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
The Cavs get right back on the road on Friday night, traveling to Minnesota for a battle for the Timberwolves before wrapping up the week on Saturday night against Sacramento. The Wine & Gold remain home for the next two, welcoming in Miami and Houston the following week.