For the second straight game, the Bucks won a game they were supposed to win. And for the second straight game, Monta Ellis took a lot of shots and made a sizable chunk of them. He scored 33 points on 12-of-24 shooting while serving as a catalyst for an otherwise dull offense in a 90-86 Bucks’ win.
The Cleveland Cavaliers awesome twosome of Anderson Varejao and Kyrie Irving did well: Varejao had a game-high 18 rebounds and Irving scored 26 points. But the pair took some lumps too. In the first half, Irving fell on a foul and hit his face, while Varejao sprained an ankle that sidelined him momentarily.
Monta sprained his ankle too. But he shook off the fourth quarter injury, fully aware that the Bucks simply didn’t have any other option at guard with Beno Udrih still injured and Doron Lamb suffering through illness and another subpar game.
Many of the usual Bucks suspects did their usual things.
Ersan Ilyasova was the mad rebound tipper once again, both out of the air to himself and out of the hands of his opponents. He finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, two steals and two assists in 25 minutes.
Drew Gooden scored a weird basket. Tonight’s version was a putback of a miss that bounced of the top rim of the backboard.
Brandon Jennings‘ shot selection was truly a thing of misery. He took far too many runners that had zero hope of becoming points. To be fair, though, he gutted out 43 minutes. He finished with 16 points, eight assists, and three steals.
Larry Sanders blocked three shots. The Bucks built up a big lead in the first half, largely because the Cavs tried and missed a lot of long two-point shots. Sanders (and later Ekpe Udoh) was there to bother many of them. The Cavaliers then backed up to the three-point line and boldly bombed through four of them — including two by Irving — in a two-minute span late in the first half. A 15-point Bucks lead rapidly dissolved to just five.
The second half started just as well for the Cavaliers. Milwaukee went into a 3-for-12 shooting drought, and it appeared that the defensively oriented front line of Marquis Daniels, Sanders, and Luc Mbah a Moute was dragging the Bucks down a bit. There were no easy shots to be had. For the first time in a long while, the Bucks found themselves trailing in a game.
But over the next three minutes, the Bucks quickly built the lead back up to 11 points thanks to some free throws, four baskets from Ellis, and the ever-endangered back-to-the-basket low post move from Ersan Ilyasova. You don’t see that species very often.
The Cavaliers tried an interesting defensive tactic to slow Ellis. They put the much bigger Alonzo Gee, a small forward, on him to start the game, while sticking C.J. Miles on Daniels. The impact was negligible. For most of the second half, Irving was guarding Monta.
By winning their fourth straight game, the Bucks reclaimed the Central Division lead and a tie for the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference. They are also holders of the longest active winning streak in the East.
Tomorrow night the Bucks return home to face the Los Angeles Clippers, who have won eight straight games.