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Recap: Cavs 97, Bucks 85

The Bucks' rough week came to a rough close Saturday night, as not even the return of Michael Redd and a night on their home turf could prevent the Bucks from dropping their fourth straight, 97-85 to the red-hot Cavaliers.  Redd came off the bench and shot just 5/16, but still led the Bucks with 20 points in 35 minutes.  Mo Williams was fairly quiet in his first game back at the BC, scoring 13 on just 6/20 fg, but LeBron James (32/7/5) and Zyrdrunas Ilgauskas (23/17) brought the goods for Cleveland.  As usual the Bucks hung tough for most of the game, but a late 11-2 run by the Cavs sealed it.

Three Bucks

  • Ramon Sessions.  Though he shot just 6/17 from the field, Sessions generally outplayed his former mentor with 16 points, eight dimes, and just one turnover in a team-high 44 minutes.  Still lacking a consistent jumper, Sessions manufactured most of his points by making good cuts through the lane or knifing past defenders off his own dribble.
  • Richard Jefferson.  It's difficult to expect anyone to contain LeBron James anymore, so the bright side of James' 32 points is that Jefferson (and Mbah a Moute) made him take a lot of shots (12/27 fg) to get there.  Otherwise Jefferson provided about what we expect from him: 19 points (7/14 fg), six board, three dimes, and a block.
  • Luke Ridnour.  Starting next to Ramon Sessions for the first time, Ridnour tallied just one assist but made up for it with 16 points on just nine shots to go with six boards. 

Three Numbers

  • 53-38.  Coming into the game the Bucks hadn't been outrebounded since November 8 against Phoenix, but Cleveland absolutely dominated the boards with a +15 edge overall and a huge 19-7 edge on the offensive glass.  Ilgauskas singlehandedly matched the Bucks with seven offensive rebounds, while Ben Wallace didn't score but half his 10 rebounds come off Cleveland misses.  Given the Bucks regularly score less efficiently than their opponents, those extra 12 Cleveland possessions gave the Bucks little chance.
  • 0.  The best Buck in +/- terms was Joe Alexander, who played just 30 seconds and wasn't on the court for any points by either team.  In contrast, Mo Williams (+15) led three Cavs +10 or better.
  • 5.  The Bucks totaled 18 turnovers compared to just 19 assists, with Luc Mbah a Moute contributing a whopping five of those in just 22 minutes.  In contrast, the Cavs turned it over just 10 times.

Three Good

  • Redd's back.  Redd looked a bit rusty--most obviously in the second quarter, when a three point attempt from the left wing flew out of his hands as he was loading up, landing a couple rows behind him.  Still, Redd was aggressive (8/8 ft) and did a pretty good job of finding open teammates off his drives.  The final score tonight didn't show it, but the Bucks are at least inching back to health. 
  • New ideas.  It didn't have much effect either way, but kudos to Skiles for trying to shake things up with a new-look starting lineup.  Luc Mbah a Moute has slumped a bit and Charlie Bell's shot hasn't been right all year, likely due in part to his bum leg.  They made way for Sessions and Charlie Villanueva, who was actually a question mark after reaggravating his hamstring injury last night.  Perhaps that was partly why Malik Allen saw so much more time than CV.
  • (Pass).  Like last night, I'm boycotting my third bullet here.  I'm getting sick of looking for silver linings. 

Three Bad

  • Shot in the dark.  After watching the Bucks suffer through another sub-40% shooting effort, I wondered when the last time was that they made 50% or better of their field goal attempts.  Answer: April 14, 2008 against the Bulls, making it 20 games and counting.  Yeah, it's been a rough year offensively.
  • Outworked, for once.  It's not that Bucks weren't trying, but the Cavs' dominance on the glass translated into a 22-7 edge in second chance points--which happens to be the primary way the Bucks have been overcoming their perpetually cold shooting.
  • Z's J's.  Ilgauskas did the dirty work with his 17 boards, but his silky smooth jumper set an early tone, capitalizing on the Bucks' collapsing defense to calmly nail jumper after jumper.  Though Ilgauskas' penchant for jump shots has translated into a not-great-for-a-big 48% career field goal percentage, he's up over 53% this year and made 11/17 tonight.