Love, Cavs dump Bucks to snap slump
CLEVELAND — The last time Kevin Love played a basketball game, he checked out in the third quarter with an upper respiratory illness and went to the hospital.
On Tuesday night, Love scored a season-high 32 points and grabbed 16 rebounds as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Milwaukee Bucks again 124-119.
“Whatever they gave me I might go back and check myself in tonight,” Love said.
J.R. Smith also set a season high with 20 points and drained five 3-pointers, passing Rashard Lewis (1,787 3-pointers) for 14th on the NBA’s all-time list.
LeBron James stuffed the stat sheet with 30 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in 37 minutes.
The Cavaliers (5-6) beat the Bucks 116-97 on Oct. 20. Cleveland had lost five of its previous six games.
“They have the best player in the world and you guys expect them to go undefeated,” Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd said. “For what he (LeBron James) has done and what he will do, he understands what the marathon is all about and understands how important it is to get his new teammates involved and comfortable, and handle different situations.”
Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, the NBA’s top scorer, went off for 40 points. He added nine rebounds and has scored at least 28 in nine of Milwaukee’s 10 games.
Malcolm Brogdon scored 22 points and Khris Middleton finished with 20 points and 11 assists for the Bucks (4-6). Milwaukee lost its fourth straight.
The Cavs won the game at the foul line, shooting 33 of 38. Love, who also recorded 16 rebounds, was 14 of 16 from the stripe. The Bucks were 12 of 16 as a team from the line.
Smith, once a sharpshooter for the Cavs, entered play shooting 11-of-47 from 3-point range this season. He made his first three shots of the game, helping the Cavs take a 39-28 at the end of the first quarter. They’re 4-0 when they’ve led after one quarter this season.
“I just thought about it when I was on my way to the arena today,” Smith said. “I talked to my dad, I talked to my dad, pretty much like I always do on my way to the arena. The hell with it. I’m going to go back to my old way of playing, just shoot, shoot, shoot and see if I can get myself out of this thing.”
The Bucks scored 39 points in the second quarter to erase what was once a 13-point deficit, and Milwaukee led 67-65 at halftime. Milwaukee’s second-period total was the highest by a Cavs opponent in any quarter this season.
Antetokounmpo scored 21 in the opening half as the Bucks drained eight 3-pointers. Love posted 20 first-half points and James 16 for the Cavs, who committed nine turnovers before the break.
The Cavs opened the fourth quarter with James and Love on the bench and the Cavs up four. When the two returned with 6:26 to play, Cleveland led 109-101.
“Having LeBron on the bench, I think that was an opportunity for us to push, some shots didn’t go in,” Antetokounmpo said. “I’m not going to say that’s why we didn’t win the game but I think that was an opportunity for us to be aggressive and get some easy ones.”
The Cavs entered play as the NBA’s worst defensive team overall. It was a small step, then, to keep Milwaukee under 30 points in three quarters.
“I mean the game is different,” Lue said. “It’s changed from five, six, seven years ago (to) now where there were 4-5 teams averaging over 100 points and now there’s 25 teams averaging over 100.
“So, if you can hold teams around 106 points, 107, that’s a pretty good night and a 39-point quarter is too much though. So if we can get teams to 27, 28-point quarters, that’s a lot better.”
NOTES: The Milwaukee Bucks acquired G Eric Bledsoe from the Phoenix Suns for injured C Greg Monroe and two protected 2018 draft picks. Bucks coach Jason Kidd said Bledsoe would take his physical and hopefully join Milwaukee for the Friday game at San Antonio. ... Cavs F LeBron James, in his 15th season, tied Michael Jordan with 1,072 career games. Jordan played 15 years. ... James was excused from Tuesday’s shootaround to attend to an unspecified “personal issue,” according to the team. ... James entered play Tuesday second in the NBA with 37.9 minutes per game and third in scoring (28.8 points). Kidd joked that “he’s playing I think too many minutes.” ... Cavs G Iman Shumpert returned to play after missing the previous four games with right knee soreness. ... Bucks F Mirza Teletovic was active despite left knee soreness that landed him on the injury report.