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Cavs 104, Bucks 99: Recap

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There's no such thing as a double-OT loss that isn't tough, but the Bucks' 104-99 loss to the Cavs might sting more than most. The Bucks worked extremely hard on both ends but just couldn't do enough to beat a Cavs that team that also left it all out on the floor. The shooting woes (42.4% including 5/25 from three) are still a problem, but you can't say the Bucks didn't give themselves a chance.

Highlights

  • Redd and Williams finished with very nice statlines befitting of their all-around efforts. Mo had 18, seven rebounds and eight assists while Redd had 22, seven boards and a career-high nine assists (for the third time in a week). But the downside was a miserable 13/42 (31%) from the field and seven turnovers. They didn't share the ball well in the OT, but that's the NBA for you: the scorers try to score late in the game, even if they haven't been that effective. Would have been nice to get Bogut and Yi more involved.
  • LeBron James had 31/8/5, but give Desmond Mason and the Bucks a lot of credit: they made him earn every hoop and their pick/roll defense was about as good as you can realistically expect it to be. Meanwhile Ilgauskas was the beneficiary of a number of those LBJ assists, contributing 24/11 including three killer jumpers in the second OT.
  • The real hero for the Cavs was probably Devin Brown, who worked as hard as anyone on his way to 11 points (4/7 fg), nine rebounds and six assists. The Bucks would have been thrilled to see Larry Hughes get more court time, but Mike Brown wisely stuck with the other Brown.

Game Story

  • The Cavs came out fairly flat, settling for jumpers but getting eight early points from Ilgauskas. The Bucks even transitioned a bit with mixed success, with Yi starting quickly with 4/4 from the field including an excuse-me banked three with the shot clock running down. But the Bucks' early six point lead eventually went by the wayside as LeBron and company started playing more aggressively, taking a 26-24 lead at the end of one quarter.
  • After both teams were above 50% from the field in the first, neither team shot well from the outside in the second, but to their credit ball movement wasn't a problem--just the shot-making at the end. The Bucks probably moved the ball as well as they have all season, but unfortunately didn't have that much to show for it. Redd in particular wasn't shooting well (2/9 fg, 7 points in the half), with the Cavs' team defending deserving plenty of credit. But Redd was active on the boards and continually looking to find cutters and open teammates. Voskuhl continued to earn his paycheck, throwing down two dunks off pick and rolls, sticking an 18-foot baseline jumper and tipping in another. But in spite of their unselfishness the Bucks wound up unable to make any headway, trailing by two at halftime. Still, LK must have liked the effort since neither Yi nor Bogut played in the period.
  • The Cavs came out with some renewed defensive intensity in the third, forcing three turnovers en route to a 10-2 run that made it 56-46. But then the momentum vanished as the Cavs started shooting almost exclusively contested mid-range jumpers, allowing the Bucks to go on a 13-0 run. Give the Bucks a lot of credit: they hung with their assignments and didn't allow penetration, and when Larry Hughes finally did get into the lane, Bogut was there to meet him with an emphatic rejection. Still, the Bucks had dug enough of a hole that they led only 63-60 at the end of the quarter.
  • Even with Villanueva, Voskuhl and Simmons coming on to start the fourth the Bucks kept up their movement and activity to take a five point lead with 7:30 left. Still, the Bucks continued to be unable to, you know, shoot the ball, and couldn't extend the lead as the Cavs chipped away. The Bucks then had a streak of four turnovers in six possessions, allowing the Cavs to take a two point lead with just over three minutes remaining.
  • James hit a big shot with 42 seconds left in regulation to give the Cavs a one point lead, in spite of spending a full timeout grimacing over a shot to the groin.  After Mo missed a three, Gibson split a pair of free throws. With five seconds left Mo Williams then drew a foul and converted both free throws coming off a screen on the right wing, tying the game. James had a chance to win it but Yi and Mason crowded him into missing a driving banker from the left side.
  • In the OT a Daniel Gibson three gave the Cavs a 91-87 lead before the Bucks went on a 6-0 run including a shot-clock beating Redd fallaway and Desmond Mason's "Space Cowboy" hook, again with the clock running down. Leading by two, the Bucks defended well on the ensuing possession, but Devin Brown was scrappy enough to gather a rebound and flip the ball in for the tie. The Bucks then had 15 seconds to win it, but after Williams had run into traffic and kicked the ball back to Yi, Varejao forced the rookie into a difficult 17-footer that clanged off the iron at the buzzer.
  • In the second OT Ilgauskas' three jumpers seemed to drain the life out of the Bucks, who continued their tireless defensive effort only to see Big Z deliver a dagger near the end of the shot clock. Offensively the Bucks couldn't hit any more big shots, allowing the Cavs to salt it away from the line.

Random Thoughts:

  • Cavs color commentator Austin Carr, who sounds frighteningly like Isaac Hayes (aka Chef from South Park), gave away his lack of homework on the Bucks in the first minute when he proclaimed the Bucks "really get up and down the court" and "love to run." Uh, FALSE.
  • After Yi knocked down his second jumper, Carr noted "He's your typical European player. They love the outside shot and they're very good at knocking it down."  I guess Yi does play like a Euro, but...
  • There were a couple times where Bogut seemed to make a concerted effort not to shoot with his left hand. I think it was Jim Todd mentioning the other night that they don't want Bogut relying too much on his lefty hook but there were a couple times where the post defender was almost begging him to turn right and pop the lefty hook. Seven shots in 40 minutes isn't enough, but that's not just a matter of the guards playing keep away. On a positive note, the aggressive defense we'd seen earlier this year from Bogut was back, as he consistently challenged the Cavs at the rim and blocked a couple shots.
  • Yi Jianlian started off quickly but Charlie Villanueva also brought a lot of energy, finishing with 13/9. Yi played the last few minutes of regulation and both OTs, but got only two shots, making one to finish with 13/6 on 6/9 fg. He seems ready to become a bigger part of the offense, but it will be a work in progress.
  • Even though the Bucks seemed to have a couple calls go against them in OT, they also got the benefit of the doubt a number of times earlier in the game. So no, I don't think it's worth playing the "we got screwed by the refs" card.