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Newcomers help Cavaliers rally to beat Bucks

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND - For the first time all season, Cavaliers coach Byron Scott has buttons to push.

He was definitely pushing them on Friday in their 113-108 come-from-behind victory over the Milwaukee Bucks before an announced crowd of 15,098 at Quicken Loans Arena.

Scott started an unorthodox unit for the fourth quarter and rode them the rest of the way. He left All-Star guard Kyrie Irving on the bench for the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter.

Irving led all scorers with 35 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

But it was the play of newcomers Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington that lit a fire under the Cavs (12-32), who have now won three of their last four games.

Both players were obtained from the Memphis Grizzlies in a trade on Tuesday. They were joined by power forward Luke Walton and guards Shaun Livingston and Daniel Gibson.

"Thank God for our second unit tonight," Scott said. "They won the game for us."

The Cavs faced a 20-point deficit in the third quarter, which is when their comeback started. Ellington's 3-pointer with 6 minutes, 31 seconds left in the game handed the Cavs a 96-95 advantage, and they never relinquished the lead again.

The Cavs started the fourth on a 15-5 run, and when the fourth quarter was all said and done, they had outscored the Bucks, 32-18.

The 6-foot-10, 255-pound Speights contributed 10 points and six rebounds and two steals. Scott was most impressed with his ability to communicate on defense, which has been a season-long problem.

"I had no idea," Scott said. "(Big men) see everything that happens on the floor. They are the last line of defense. Mo did a heck of a job communicating."

Speights has had three big games against the Bucks this season, the first two coming when he played for Memphis.

"I told them, 'Different team. Same results.' " he said. "We got stops and started to make some shots. I like playing with the second unit. They all know how to play defense. I'm glad coached rolled with us."

Ellington had just the one field goal, but defended Bucks swingman Mike Dunleavy, who had just four points.

"Both of those guys were big," Scott said. "Wayne did a terrific job on Mike Dunleavy. He challenged his shots. They helped us win this game tonight."

Irving, named a reserve on the All-Star team on Thursday, made 12 of 17 shots from the field, 2 of 3 from the 3-point line.

"The bench came in and gave us energy," Irving said. "It was fun to watch."

The Bucks (22-19) were shooting so well, it seemed they might eventually flame out. Still, they shot 14 of 28 from the 3-point line. After three quarters, they had outscored the Cavs 36-9 from behind the arc.

Power forward Ersan Ilyasova was scorching hot in the first half. It was Walton who was credited with slowing him down in the fourth.

The 6-10 Ilyasova had 15 of his team-high 30 points in the second quarter. He made 6 of 8 from the field, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc, in the second. The Bucks led at halftime, 59-50.

The Cavs outscored the Bucks in the second half, 63-49.

"I think the second unit for Cleveland came in and really changed the complexion of the game," Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. "I thought Shaun Livingston was outstanding. There's an old saying in the NBA that you have a little extra against your old team, and Shaun played great tonight."

Livingston, who had a season-high 12 points and three assists, played in Milwaukee last season.

The Bucks weren't happy they lost a 20-point lead.

"I think we got a little too comfortable," Bucks guard Brandon Jennings said. "We played like the game was over, so we lost our energy. I was in foul trouble, which you really don't see too much. The Cavs just played great."

Walton had five points, five rebounds and seven assists. It was the second consecutive game he dished out seven assists.

Power forward Tristan Thompson had 18 points, six rebounds and three blocks for the Cavs, who have won three in a row at home.

Guard Monta Ellis had 21 points, six rebounds, nine assists and two steals for the Bucks. Jennings, snubbed for the All-Star Game, added 14 points and a game-high 12 assists.

Notes: Irving said his father, Drederick, found out that his son had made the All-Star team a day early. "My dad said he found out the day before," Kyrie said. "He said he was emotional." Irving instructed his father, his agent, Jeff Wechsler, and the Cavs not to tell him who made the team. "I sat there on my couch and watched the (TNT) show," he said. ... Scott is so happy for his prodigy. "He's a hell of a young player," Scott said. "(After we drafted him and) got him in practice, we knew we had struck gold. ... Going back to the 2008 NBA draft, Speights had convinced himself he was coming to the Cavaliers. However, the Philadelphia 76ers had other ideas. They picked the Florida product No. 16 overall. The Cavs ended up taking North Carolina State's J.J. Hickson at 19. "Cleveland was always a team I wanted to come to," Speights said. He had veto power on the trade from Memphis, but actually wanted to come to Cleveland, something that's not said very often. "No other team was that young that needed another big man," Speights said. "It was a good opportunity to come here and get some playing time." ... Irving finally got rid of his protective mask after wearing it for 19 games. ... Bucks fans were furious that Jennings was left off the East All-Star team. "I thought he had a pretty good shot," Boylan said. "I put a lot of weight in the success of a team. Brandon is on a team that's in the playoffs. I was a little surprised." ... Since Boylan has taken over for Scott Skiles on Jan. 8, the Bucks have been on a scoring tear. "We're making more shots and moving the ball well," he said. "We're getting better quality shots."
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