CLEVELAND (AP)—The Milwaukee Bucks are 1-for-LeBron.
Michael Redd scored a season-high 34 points, Mo Williams added 20 and the Bucks ended a seven-game losing streak against Cleveland with their first road win, 111-107 over the Cavaliers on Tuesday night.
The Bucks hadn’t beaten the Cavs since Dec. 10, 2005. They also snapped an eight-game losing streak in Cleveland, where they had been winless since Jan. 6, 2003—the season before LeBron James arrived.
“We broke the road losing streak, the Cleveland losing streak. It means a lot,” Redd said. “It was big for us to come in here and get a win. I think it’s something we can build on.”
The Bucks, who went just 1-15 in the Central Division last season, are 2-0 with wins over Cleveland and Chicago.
“We got beat up four times by the Cavs (last season), it’s something we talked about during the summer,” Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “It wasn’t just Cleveland. It was the whole division. We knew we needed to play better.”
James finished with 34 points, seven assists and seven rebounds in 44 minutes. He played the entire second half, and Cleveland’s superstar nearly rallied the Cavs, who trailed 104-95 with 2:19 left after a basket by Williams.
James then converted a three-point play, and isolated defensively on Redd, he stripped Milwaukee’s guard and raced down for a layup to bring Cleveland within four. A free throw by Daniel Gibson pulled the Cavs within three, but Redd, who scored 18 points in the third, dropped two free throws to put Milwaukee up 109-104.
Gibson, who scored a regular-season, career-high 26, hit a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left but it was way too late for Cleveland, which gave up easy baskets all night. Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavs, who led by 14 in the first half but failed to put the Bucks away when they had the chance.
“We didn’t defend,” James said. “We have to find a way to defend better. We know what we have to do. We’re not soul searching or anything like that.”
No, but they are hurting.
Already shorthanded, the Cavaliers announced after the game that veteran forward Donyell Marshall will be out for two months with a badly sprained right wrist. The club is already missing starting guard Larry Hughes (bone bruise), forward Anderson Varejao (contract holdout) and forward Cedric Simmons (sprained ankle).
Redd was a reserve on that squad, but he’s a star now, and he showed why during a dazzling third quarter.
After scoring 12 points in the opening half, Redd, who was courted in free agency by Cleveland a few years back, hit a quick 3-pointer early in the third and later scored 13 straight points as Milwaukee opened an 84-80 lead going into the fourth.
In the third, the former Ohio State star went 5-of-6 from the floor and made three 3-pointers.
Redd finished 15-of-20 from the free-throw line.
“I was just attacking,” Redd said. “I was seeing the flow of the game and just being aggressive. I just took advantage of how they were guarding me. If they were going to guard me loosely, then attack.”
The Bucks were able to get several easy baskets inside as they exploited Cleveland’s thin frontline, especially Williams, who blasted down the lane for baskets without any defenders in his path.
“We know we are a much better team than we’re showing right now,” Cavs forward Drew Gooden said. “We saw what happened last year, what made us get to the finals. It’s playing defense.”
James is averaging 37.7 points 10 rebounds and 10 assists in his past three games. … Williams didn’t have a turnover in 41 minutes. … It’s only November, but at 29.2 points per game, James leads the NBA in scoring. He was asked if that might hold up until the end of the season. “No,” he said. “A guy out in L.A. is not going to let anybody lead the league in scoring but him.” Corey Maggette, right? Of course, James was referring to Kobe Bryant. … Krystkowiak has been impressed with Chinese rookie Yi Jianlian’s adjustment to the NBA and a new culture. “He’s fit in. Even though he’s only 20, he’s very mature. A lot of young kids come in the league and you can tell by looking at them they’re kind of awed, but that hasn’t been the case with him.” … Cavs G Eric Snow was active for the first time this season but didn’t play. He underwent knee surgery in October.