Bucks 90, Cavaliers 86

The short-handed Milwaukee Bucks needed someone to step up

Friday night.

Monta Ellis gave them his best game of the season.

Ellis scored a season-high 33 points and the Bucks recorded

their season-high fourth straight win with a 90-86 victory over the

Cleveland Cavaliers.

”Monta obviously had a hot hand and kept us in it

offensively,” Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. ”He obviously

had it going.”

Ellis, who scored 20 points in the second half, was 12 for 24

from the field and was at his best late. He scored 10 points in the

final 6 minutes of the third quarter after the Cavaliers took a

brief lead and then held off Cleveland’s last charge in the fourth

quarter.

C.J. Miles’ 3-pointer cut the lead to 80-78 with 5:26 to play,

but Ellis scored on a layup, hit two free throws and made a jumper

to stretch the lead to 86-80 with 2:41 remaining.

”I just took what the defense gave me, it was pretty simple,”

he said. ”I tried to come off screens and make a play for myself

or for someone else.”

The Bucks, who recorded their ninth straight victory over the

Cavaliers, left three players in Milwaukee because of injuries.

Three others were either coming off an injury or an illness that’s

been going around the team.

Kyrie Irving scored 26 points to lead Cleveland, which committed

a season-high 27 turnovers. The Cavaliers have lost seven of eight

and 11 of 13.

Cavaliers coach Byron Scott admitted this was probably the most

frustrated he’s been over a loss all season and couldn’t explain

his team’s lack of energy.

”I have no idea,” Scott said. ”If I knew that I’d bottle it

up and make a lot of money because I have no idea. We had a good

day this morning going through stuff, a day off yesterday, so

there’s no reason in the world to come out with a lack of

energy.”

Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao, the league’s leading

rebounder, left the game in the first half after sustaining a

contusion to his lower left leg. X-rays taken at halftime were

negative and Varejao came back in the game early in the third

quarter. He had eight points and 18 rebounds.

Irving played 36 minutes despite taking a nasty fall in the

first quarter when he was knocked to the court on a hard foul while

going to the basket. He drove down the lane and was defended by Luc

Mbah a Moute and Larry Sanders. Mbah a Moute was called for the

foul, but it was a hit from Sanders that leveled Irving, who landed

on the left side of his face. He was down for a couple of minutes,

but got to his feet and took the free throws, making both.

Irving was removed at the end of the quarter and sat on the

bench with a towel on his face, but played his usual number of

minutes. A team spokesman said Irving underwent a precautionary

examination following the game, but would accompany the team to New

York for Saturday’s game against the Knicks.

Brandon Jennings added 16 points for the Bucks. Sanders (sinus

infection) and Ekpe Udoh (sprained left wrist), who both missed

Wednesday’s game against Sacramento, returned. Sanders had 10

points and 10 rebounds while Ersan Ilyasova had 11 points.

Milwaukee never trailed in the first half and built a 16-point

lead in the second quarter. The Bucks led 52-43 at halftime, but

Irving scored nine points in the first 4 minutes of the third

quarter to help the Cavaliers rally. Miles hit two free throws with

6:30 remaining in the third quarter to put Cleveland ahead 57-56,

the Cavaliers’ first lead of the game.

Miles scored 17 points for Cleveland, which has lost 17 of 20.

The Cavaliers broke a five-game losing streak by beating the Los

Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, but have dropped their last two.

A moment of silence was observed before the game for the victims

of the shooting incident at an elementary school in Newton,

Conn.

NOTES: Rookie G Doron Lamb, who has had the flu, arrived in

Cleveland on a 4 p.m. flight and played 6 scoreless minutes in the

first half. … G Beno Udrih (sprained right ankle), F Tobias

Harris (lacerated right elbow) and G Mike Dunleavy (bruised left

knee) all remained in Milwaukee. … Cleveland G Dion Waiters

(sprained left ankle) missed his seventh straight game. Scott said

Waiters won’t play Saturday against New York, but is expected to

return Tuesday when Cleveland hosts Toronto. … F Omri Casspi

missed his second straight game with the stomach flu.