Bucks fall to Cavs for third straight time in season series

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks gave Khris Middleton the night off, while LeBron James returned from strep throat to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 102-95 victory at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

It was an uncharacteristic performance from Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who logged just nine points on 4-of-13 shooting. Rookie Malcolm Brogdon led Milwaukee with 20 points and five assists off the bench.

The Cavaliers are 0-4 this season when James misses a game, including a 117-99 home loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.  But although James wasn’t feeling 100 percent, his 24 points in a team-high 37 minutes helped carry Cleveland past Milwaukee, which was coming off a home win Sunday afternoon over the Phoenix Suns. The Bucks are now 4-7 this season in road finales in back-to-backs.

In the first half, Bucks forward Michael Beasley suffered a left knee injury, initially called a sprain. He wasn’t able to return to the game and was seen on crutches later on in the night.

”We’ll see how he is,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. ”Hopefully it’s not bad where he can get back because he’s playing at a very high level for us.”

The Bucks were out-rebounded 45-33, but were given plenty of chances in the form of 16 Cavalier turnovers. Milwaukee hosts Denver on Wednesday night.

Bucks fall to the Cavaliers for a second straight night

For the second straight night, the Milwaukee Bucks fell to the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, this time 113-102.

Playing without forward Kevin Love and guard J.R. Smith, the Cavs turned to their main two stars to lead them to victory. LeBron James scored 29 points and had nine rebounds, while Kyrie Irving poured in 31 points and dished out 13 assists to help Cleveland sweep the home-and-home series with Milwaukee.

The Bucks big two — Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker — combined for 55 points, but the rest of the starting lineup added just seven points, while rookie Malcom Brogdon was the third-leading scorer, coming off the bench to chip in 11.

Though the playoffs are still quite far down the road — it’s only December of course — the two teams could see each other once April rolls around. If the postseason started today, Milwaukee would be the No. 8 seed and face the top-seeded Cavaliers.

Many wouldn’t think that would be an interesting series, but Cleveland has apparently set its sights on the Bucks after Milwaukee crushed them in their first meeting of the year.

“I hope, man. I hope,” Irving said after the game, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “They’re a great young team. It would be great to four games against them. I’m fired up to go against them every time now, for real. Ever since they kicked our ass in Milwaukee, it’s been personal, and it’s going to continue to be personal.”

Parker scores 30 but Bucks fall to Cavs in OT 114-108

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks battled back from an 18-point hole in the first half and took the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers to overtime, but that’s all the closer they’d get in a 114-108 loss at the BMO Harris Bradley Center Tuesday night.

LeBron James crushed Milwaukee’s hopes with 24 seconds left in the extra period, draining a three-pointer to give Cleveland the boost they’d need to snag victory from the jaws of defeat. It was James’ fifth three-point conversion on the night (5-9 3FG, 55.6 percent). He’d finish the game with 34 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists.

Jabari Parker was the high point man for Milwaukee, pouring in 30 points and snagging nine boards in the losing effort.

”Jabari [Parker] took advantage of some of our smaller guys when we had them on him, getting to the basket, kind of being physical,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. ”So we’ve got to do a better job with that matchup.”

The Bucks held an advantage in rebounding 51-43, but struggled from beyond the arc, converting on just 25.9 percent of their shots (7-of-27).

The Bucks and Cavaliers battle again Wednesday night from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland at 6 p.m. CT.

Antetokounmpo ties career-high in win over Cavaliers

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks upended the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night 118-101 thanks to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who tied a career-high with 34 points.

Antetokounmpo made 13 of his 19 shots, adding 12 rebounds and five steals to the stat sheet. As a team, Milwaukee shot 53.5 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from distance. The Bucks also outrebounded the Cavaliers 51-44 and dominated in the paint 68-34.

But Milwaukee’s defense was stellar as well, holding LeBron James to 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting. They forced him into seven turnovers and scored 19 points off turnovers.