Cavs undone by Bucks 102-88
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — The lowly Cavaliers got more lowly.
On Friday night, they couldn’t beat the worst shooting, lowest-scoring team in the NBA — a squad missing its top two scorers — and lost their 15th straight game.
The Cavs are beyond bad, and their losing streak may grow some more.
Andrew Bogut scored 23 points, Corey Maggette added 20 and the Milwaukee Bucks took their turn beating up Cleveland with a 102-88 win Friday night over the horrible Cavaliers, who lost for the 25th time in 26 games and seem to be getting worse.
Afterward, at least one of the Cavs showed some frustration.
“Nobody likes to lose,” said guard Daniel Gibson, his eyes widening, his voice steady. “I hate to lose — with a passion. And for me to sit here and say I’m comfortable or I’m OK and it’s going to get better, it’s enough of saying that.
“Now it’s time to do it. You’ve got to do it. You have to go out there and play the game the right way. No more excuses. You have to go out there and do it.”
The Bucks came in last in scoring at 91.2 points per game, but they passed that with 7:35 remaining, eclipsed 100 points for only the ninth time and easily handled the Cavs, who never led. Cleveland hasn’t won since Dec. 18 and there’s no easy games on the upcoming schedule.
The Cavs visit Chicago on Saturday and New Jersey on Monday. The Nets are the only team with a losing record Cleveland will face the rest of this month. After the Nets, the Cavs play at Boston, Denver at home, at Orlando and Miami.
The Cavaliers haven’t won on the road since Nov. 9 at New Jersey.
“We have to play harder. We have to play smarter. And, we have to be tougher,” coach Byron Scott said. “That’s the bottom line.”
Antawn Jamison and Ramon Sessions scored 22 apiece for Cleveland, which got a combined four points from starters J.J. Hickson, Manny Harris and Alonzo Gee.
The Bucks came in as the league’s worst shooting team (42 percent), but you’d never know it. They made 51 percent of their attempts against a Cleveland team regressing by the day. Even more troubling for the Cavs is that Milwaukee handled them despite not having Brandon Jennings and John Salmons, its top two scorers.
Jennings has been out for more than a month since having foot surgery and Salmons rested a sore right hip.
Bogut, who has been slowed by a strength-sapping virus, was too much for Cleveland inside. He made 11 of 14 shots and had no trouble posting up when he needed to because the Cavs are without center Anderson Varejao, sidelined with a torn ankle tendon.
Bogut underwent blood tests on Friday, and is hoping for the best.
“I have my fingers crossed it’s nothing too bad,” said Bogut, who scored just six points in 36 minutes in a win on Wednesday. “There’s definitely something there because my lymph nodes are all swollen. We have to figure out what it is and get the right medication and get rid of it.”
Keyon Dooling added 12 points and 11 rebounds for Milwaukee, which led by just nine going into the fourth but opened the final 12 minutes with an 11-2 run.
Bucks forward Carlos Delfino returned after missing 2 months with a concussion. Delfino, who had last played on Nov. 6, scored nine points in 23 minutes.
“It’s a great feeling to be back on the court and playing with the guys,” Delfino said. “I felt comfortable. I expected to feel worse. I hadn’t been out there in 76 days. I’m very happy.”
Scott refused to call the game a “must-win” for his team, but with the daunting schedule ahead, it may have been the Cavs’ best chance to win for some time.
About an hour before tip-off, owner Dan Gilbert tried to make Cleveland’s fed-up fans feel better by hinting at possible changes. Gilbert, who on the night LeBron James left promised the Cavs would win a championship before the superstar, wrote on his Twitter page: “You don’t panic when things get tough,” he wrote. “You think. You examine. You calculate. THEN you strike. And we will strike.”
It may be time.
The Cavs were as healthy as they’ve been in weeks, and it didn’t help. Anthony Parker (back), Joey Graham (leg) and Christian Eyenga (ankle) were all back after missing time with injuries. Cleveland has been so short-handed that the 49-year-old Scott practiced this week.
Scott insists the Cavs are not “rebuilding” and said the organization refuses to use that term despite the team’s struggles, lack of talent and the fact that Cleveland is playing several rookies. Scott reasoned the Cavs can’t be considered in rebuilding mode because they haven’t traded Jamison, Hickson or Mo Williams.
That could happen soon enough.
Notes: Sessions went 14 of 16 from the free-throw line. … Quicken Loans Arena was only about half filled despite being announced as a sellout of 20,562. … Scott didn’t have many lengthy losing streaks, or lose much at all, when he played for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1983-93. Scott and his “Showtime” teammates Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy expected to win every time out. “When we lost two in a row, it was like a morgue at the training complex,” he said. “That group was something.” … Cleveland’s club record for consecutive losses is 19, set in 1982. The NBA record for one season is 23.
Updated January 21, 2011