EditorsNote: Fixes name typo in first graf
Antetokounmpo scores 34 as Bucks blast Cavs
MILWAUKEE -- Four seasons into an already-impressive NBA career, a 34-point effort from Giannis Antetokounmpo against the defending world champions might be looked at as a coming out party by some, but don’t count Jason Kidd among those folks.
“He’s been here four years now; he’s arrived,” Kidd said after Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks to a 118-101 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night at the Bradley Center.
Antetokounmpo hit 13 of 19 shots, grabbed 12 rebounds and finished with five steals and two blocked shots, setting the tone for a Bucks’ offense that shot 53.5 percent from the floor and made 7 of 19 3-point attempts.
In all, five Milwaukee players scored in double figures. Jabari Parker finished with 18 points while Michael Beasley added another 17 off the bench. Greg Monroe scored 14 and Malcom Brogdon 10 in reserve roles.
”We were moving the ball and we didn’t stop moving the ball,“ Antetokounmpo said. Our pace was great, we rebounded the ball well and we moved the ball in the offensive end.”
But the Bucks were even more impressive on the defensive end, where the held Cleveland to 42.7 percent shooting and a 14-for-39 showing from beyond the arc.
LeBron James led Cleveland with 22 points but had only eight over the final three quarters while Kyrie Irving scored 16 points in the first but only four the rest of the way.
“They did quite well in that first quarter,” Kidd said. “For us to only be down two, that was a goal and we accomplished it. From there, we started to get more confidence defensively.”
Those two got the Cavaliers off to a good start as Cleveland held a 27-13 lead with 4:56 left in the quarter. But Milwaukee responded and got nine points from Antetokounmpo in a six-minute span then closed the first on a 10-0 run to make it 32-30.
“We let our guard down a little bit,” James said. “They pushed up the tempo and we didn’t get stops. I came out of the game when we were up 10 and we let them go on a quick run to end the quarter. From that point on they got into a rhythm and they’re a rhythm team.”
An Antetokounmpo dunk with 8:16 left in the half put Milwaukee up 40-39. It was part of a 14-2 run that gave the Bucks a seven-point lead with six minutes remaining in the half but they broke the game open in the third as Antetokounmpo and Parker combined for 25 points.
James and Kevin Love hit 3-pointers early in the quarter, tying the game at 65 with 8:01 to play but the Bucks responded with a 9-0 run and coach Tyronn Lue pulled his starters with 3:49 left in the quarter.
“I just didn’t like how we were playing,” Lue said.
Milwaukee, though, never trailed again. Lue went back to his starting five early in the fourth only for the Bucks to go ahead by as many as 22.
Lue pulled his starting group and turned things over to the bench with 6:03 to play.
”It’s not that it’s a breakout; it was a matter of us trusting each other and being on the same page and playing as a team,“ Kidd said. ”For a young team ... sometimes it takes time. You want to put it in the microwave and instantly get it right away but if you’re patient enough for the process and the journey, it will come.
“This was a good night for us to learn. Now, the next step is for us to get better tomorrow and try again to find a way to win on the road.”
NOTES: The Cavaliers extended their NBA record by making at least 10 3-pointers for the 16th consecutive game to start the season. ... Tuesday marked the first time that Bucks G Matthew Dellavedova faced his former team, and he finished with three points and seven assists. Dellavedova spent his first three NBA seasons with the Cavaliers, averaging 5.7 points and 3.4 assists in 215 games. Dellavedova, who signed a four-year, $38 million contract with Milwaukee during the offseason, is averaging a career-best 6.3 assists per game this season. ... Cleveland lost for only the second time in its past seven meetings with the Bucks. ... The Cavaliers were without F Channing Frye, who was excused from the team after his father died Thursday. ... G Iman Shumpert, who missed Cleveland’s last game with a strained left hamstring, scored two points in 17 minutes at Milwaukee.