Published January 21, 2011
CLEVELAND – Andrew Bogut scored 23 points, Corey Maggette added 20 and the Milwaukee Bucks took their turn beating up Cleveland with a 102-88 win Friday night over the horrible Cavaliers, who lost their 15th straight with no end to their streak in sight.
The Bucks came in as the NBA's lowest-scoring team at 91.2 points per game, but they passed that with 7:35 remaining and easily sent the Cavs to their 25th loss in 26 games. Cleveland hasn't won since Dec. 18 and there's no easy games on the upcoming schedule.
The Cavs visit Chicago on Saturday and are at New Jersey on Monday. The Nets are the only team with a losing record Cleveland will face the rest of this month.
The Bucks are also the league's worst shooting team (42 percent) but they made 51 percent of their attempts against a Cleveland team regressing by the day. Even more troubling for the Cavaliers is that Milwaukee handled them despite not having Brandon Jennings and John Salmons, its top two scorers.
Jennings has been out for more than a month since having foot surgery and Salmons rested a sore right hip.
But Bogut, who has been slowed by a virus, was too much for Cleveland inside. He made 11 of 14 shots and had no trouble posting up down low when he needed because the Cavs are without center Anderson Varejao for the rest of the season.
Keyon Dooling added 12 points and 11 rebounds for Milwaukee, which led by just nine going into the fourth but opened the final 12 minutes with an 11-2 run.
Bucks forward Carlos Delfino returned after missing 2½ months with a concussion. Delfino, who had last played on Nov. 6, scored nine points in 23 minutes.
Cleveland coach Byron Scott refused to call the game a "must-win" for his team, but with the daunting schedule ahead, it may have been the Cavs' best chance to end its troubling slide.
About an hour before tip-off, owner Dan Gilbert tried to make Cleveland's fed-up fans feel better by hinting at possible changes. Gilbert, who on the night LeBron James left promised the Cavs would win a championship before the superstar, wrote on his Twitter page: "You don't panic when things get tough," he wrote. "You think. You examine. You calculate. THEN you strike. And we will strike."
It may be time.
The Cavs were as healthy as they've been in weeks, and it didn't help. Anthony Parker (back), Joey Graham (leg) and Christian Eyenga (ankle) were all back after missing time with injuries. Cleveland has been so short-handed that the 49-year-old Scott practiced this week.
Scott insists the Cavs are not "rebuilding" and said the organization refuses to use that term despite the team's struggles, lack of talent and the fact that Cleveland is playing several rookies. Scott reasoned the Cavs can't be considered in rebuilding mode because they haven't traded Jamison, Hickson or Mo Williams.
That could happen soon enough.
The Bucks pushed their lead to 20 in the third on Ersan Ilyasova's 3. The Cavs could have packed it in, but they fought back and back-to-back 3s by Eyenga and Gibson pulled them within 79-70 entering the fourth. But they couldn't keep the momentum and added another digit to the loss column.
Notes: Quicken Loans Arena was only about half filled despite being announced as a sellout of 20,562. ... Scott didn't have many lengthy losing streaks, or lose much at all, when he played for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1983-93. Scott and his "Showtime" teammates Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy expected to win every time out. "When we lost two in a row, it was like a morgue at the training complex," he said. "That group was something." ... Cleveland's club record for consecutive losses is 19, set in 1982. The NBA record for one season is 23.