The Cleveland Cavaliers came into their game Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks looking to have their first complete game of the season. They did not get it in what turned into a 109-104 loss.
The Cavaliers did a lot of things right, but still were unable to put it all together when it mattered.
They shot better than 56% in the first half, but allowed the Bucks to score 55 points. They scored more than 100 points, but allowed Milwaukee to do the same.
Cleveland was unable to take advantage of the Bucks playing without Bandon Knight, Larry Sanders, and Ersan Ilyasova, among others, due to injuries.
Instead they continued to struggled defending the opponent's guards, as O.J. Mayo scored 28 points and Gary Neal scored 23 off the Bucks' bench.
Kyrie Irving scored his season high – eclipsing 16 points for the first time this season – with 29 and was more efficient, shooting 50% on the night. The point guard also registered eight assists, but tried to do too much in the end.
During a 13-0 run that gave the Cavaliers a late lead, Irving scored 10-straight points, but was forced into a difficult shot, which he missed, dribbled the ball off his foot for a turnover, and missed a three-point attempt at the end of the game.
While Irving's superhero mode has worked in the past, it has not been successful so far this year. He needs to find a way to keep his teammates involved late in the game so that the defense cannot lock on him.
Cleveland fans have seen this before with Mike Brown as coach. LeBron James constantly took on the other team's defense, but was able to use his size and ability to get the job done. Irving is not on James' level with either thing, so he will need help.
The last two years, the Cavaliers have used pick-and-rolls late in games, yet that has not been run at all this season under Brown.
Dion Waiters and Anderson Varejao were the only other Cleveland starters to score in double figures. Waiters finished with 21 – shooting a season-best 54% – and Varejao finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.
C.J. Miles continued his hot start to the season coming off the the Cavs bench. He registered 14 points, two assists, and three rebounds on the night.
On top of Mayo and Neal's big nights, Milwaukee got double-digit scoring from three of its other starters.
Zaza Pachulia came close to a triple-double with 14 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. John Henson almost registered a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds as well. Caron Butler finished the night with 10 points and four rebounds as the Bucks spread the scoring around well.
Andrew Bynum played just over 14 minutes and finished with four points and four rebounds. First-overall pick Anthony Bennett finally got off the mark, registering his first made basket of the year on a three-point attempt. He has now shot 1-for-20 on the year.
The Cavaliers next play Friday night at the Philadelphia 76ers, where Bynum will return to the team he was on last year, but did not play a minute.
After starting the season 3-0 with wins over the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia has dropped two straight and Cleveland would love to extend that streak.
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