Bucks-Cavaliers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 13, 2012
A visit to Cleveland should provide the Milwaukee Bucks with a good opportunity to extend their winning streak to a season-high four games. The Bucks can accomplish that feat with a ninth consecutive victory over the Cavaliers on Friday night. Milwaukee (11-9) has not trailed over the final three quarters in any of its last three games, holding opponents to averages of 88.7 points and 40.7 percent shooting. The Bucks never fell behind Wednesday in a 98-85 win over Sacramento, using a 12-2 run over the third and fourth quarters to take a 15-point lead and control of the game. Brandon Jennings scored 19 points and Monta Ellis added 17 with 11 assists as Milwaukee overcame a 40.6-percent shooting effort. Off to their best 20-game start since opening 12-8 in 2005, the Bucks held a Kings' squad minus big man DeMarcus Cousins to 37.2 percent from the field and pulled down a season-high 60 rebounds. "Neither team played well," coach Scott Skiles told the Bucks' official website. "You have to win those games. Make enough plays to win." Ersan Ilyasova had 16 points and a season-high 14 rebounds while Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored 17 in his first start of the season for Milwaukee, which won without starting forwards Larry Sanders (illness) and Epke Udoh (wrist sprain) or key reserves Mike Dunleavy (bruised knee) and Beno Udrih (ankle sprain). While it's uncertain if any of those players will return Friday, the Bucks should still feel confident they can continue their dominance over the Cavaliers (5-18). Milwaukee has averaged 110.1 points and shot 51.9 percent during an eight-game winning streak over Cleveland that dates to an 83-81 road loss Nov. 24, 2010. Only the Bucks' run of 12 straight wins versus Brooklyn is currently longer against an opponent. Ellis had 29 points, 12 rebounds and six assists while Jennings scored 13 with 13 assists in a 105-102 home win over the Cavaliers on Nov. 3 in the teams' only meeting this season. Jennings has totaled 52 points and 14 assists in the last two at Cleveland. One night after the Cavs snapped a five-game slide with a 100-94 home win over the struggling Los Angeles Lakers, they blew a 16-point first-half lead and totaled 23 in the second half of a 96-81 loss at Indiana on Wednesday. C.J. Miles posted his second straight 28-point game, but star Kyrie Irving was held to nine on 4-of-12 shooting as Cleveland shot a season-low 33.3 percent. "We have to learn as a young team to know how to carry a lead like we had into the second half," said Irving, who scored 28 against the Lakers in his return from missing 11 games with a broken finger. "As the leader of this team, I have to do a better job of settling us down and making that happen." Irving has averaged 28.0 points on 59.3 percent shooting in three games against the Bucks. He had 27 with seven assists at Milwaukee last month. A starter the last two games, Miles is averaging 21.0 points in the last four.
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