November 23, 2014

Elyria
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Bucks 119, Cavaliers 116: A game after being eliminated from playoff contention, Cleveland plays clunker

Milwaukee Bucks' Brandon Knight drives against Cleveland Cavaliers' Dion Waiters Friday in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Milwaukee Bucks’ Brandon Knight drives against Cleveland Cavaliers’ Dion Waiters Friday in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

MILWAUKEE — With slim hopes of avoiding the NBA’s worst record, the Milwaukee Bucks are making the most of their late-season opportunity.

The Cavaliers dropped their first game since being eliminated from the playoff chase.

Chris Wright, in the midst of his second 10-day contract, scored an energetic 14 points off the bench to help the Bucks hold off Cleveland 119-116 on Friday night. The victory moved the Bucks to within two games of Philadelphia with three games remaining for each team.

Dion Waiters had 23 points for Cleveland, while Jarrett Jack added 21 and Tristan Thompson 18. Starting guards Brandon Knight scored 24 points and Ramon Sessions added 20 for the Bucks, who also got 15 points and six rebounds from reserve forward John Henson.

Knight’s jumper from the right wing put the Bucks up for good at 107-106 with 4:09 remaining. Two free throws by Kyrie Irving pulled the Cavaliers to 111-110, but a basket by Khris Middleton and two free throws by Zaza Pachulia put the Bucks ahead five with 1:44 remaining.

“Obviously with the moment with us, that we are in, being eliminated from the playoffs, guys struggle with the whole ‘We are playing for nothing’ type thoughts,’” Jack said. “You are playing against a team who has struggled all season. But you have to tip your cap to them. They came out regardless of what their record was and played the necessary basketball to get the win tonight.”

The 6-foot-8 Wright, undrafted out of Dayton in 2011, spent most of this season with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League, averaging 19.5 points and 8.1 rebounds in 38 games. His only other NBA stint was 24 games with Golden State in the final half of the 2011-12 season, when he averaged 2.9 points and 1.9 rebounds.

Milwaukee trailed 69-62 at the half, but Knight scored seven points to pace a 10-0 run that put the Bucks up 90-86 with 1:47 left in the third quarter. Cleveland scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to take a 96-92 lead on Jack’s 3-pointer.

“There are a lot of areas during the course of the game where we did not play good basketball,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. “Give Milwaukee credit, but I tell you what we did not play the game the right way to start the game and we did not play the right way to finish the first half.”

Irving entered the game averaging 26.4 against the Bucks, his most against any opponent, but he was held to 12 points.

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Bucks 119, Cavs 116
CLEVELAND (116): Gee 3-8 3-4 9, Thompson 5-8 8-10 18, Hawes 7-12 0-0 15, Irving 4-12 4-4 12, Waiters 8-15 6-8 23, Jack 7-13 5-5 21, Varejao 1-3 1-2 3, Dellavedova 2-6 0-0 4, Zeller 5-8 1-2 11. Totals 42-85 28-35 116.
MILWAUKEE (119): Middleton 7-11 0-0 17, Adrien 3-10 3-6 9, Pachulia 6-13 4-5 16, Knight 8-17 5-6 24, Sessions 6-12 8-9 20, Henson 7-9 1-4 15, Antetokounmpo 0-3 3-6 3, Wright 7-9 0-0 14, Raduljica 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 44-84 25-38 119.
Cleveland 32 37 18 29 — 116
Milwaukee 37 25 30 27 — 119
3-Point Goals—Cleveland 4-20 (Jack 2-5, Waiters 1-2, Hawes 1-5, Gee 0-1, Dellavedova 0-2, Irving 0-5), Milwaukee 6-16 (Middleton 3-5, Knight 3-6, Wright 0-1, Antetokounmpo 0-1, Sessions 0-3). Fouled Out—Hawes. Rebounds—Cleveland 51 (Thompson 10), Milwaukee 52 (Adrien 9). Assists—Cleveland 18 (Waiters, Dellavedova 4), Milwaukee 20 (Sessions 7). Total Fouls—Cleveland 27, Milwaukee 22. Technicals—Cleveland defensive three second. A—13,126 (18,717).