MILWAUKEE: The last time the Cavs were here, the team held a meeting that lasted nearly 30 minutes after the conclusion of the game.
Not much has changed in the last month.
The meeting this time came at the half and didn't last nearly as long, but the message coach Byron Scott had for his players was simple: Those who wanted to be here, raise your hands. The rest can go ahead and start their summer vacation early.
The Cavs fell to the Milwaukee Bucks 108-101 on Saturday. They displayed a little more heart in the second half than they did the first, but some costly turnovers late, poor defense early and an inability to slow John Salmons resulted in their second loss in as many nights.
The Cavs remain tied with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the league's worst record with two games to go.
``The first half we didn't come ready to play, we didn't look very motivated,'' Scott said. ``The second half was much better. If we'd have played that way the whole game, it might have been a different outcome.''
The Bucks were playing without center Andrew Bogut, who will have arthroscopic surgery Tuesday on his ailing right elbow, but the Cavs were unable to really take advantage.
Former Cav Drew Gooden started in place of Bogut and recorded his first career triple-double. Even more damaging was J.J. Hickson, who missed most of the first half with foul trouble and had two costly turnovers in the game's final five minutes when the Cavs were trying to mount a comeback.
Hickson had 11 points and 12 rebounds despite playing just 24 minutes. He picked up two quick fouls withiin the game's first five minutes and sat the rest of the half while the Cavs got clobbered on the boards 24-11.
``I didn't like the way he came out to play at the start of the game,'' Scott said.
Hickson compounded his problems when he grabbed a defensive rebound with about five minutes left and the Cavs down five. He had Daniel Gibson standing right next to him, but he threw a bad pass ahead to Christian Eyenga. The ball sailed out of bounds by the Cavs bench while the coaches grimaced in frustration.
With the Cavs down 104-98 in the final minute, Hickson was stripped of his dribble by Brandon Jennings while he was trying to bring the ball up the court. The Bucks converted the turnover into points with a pair of Gooden free throws that sealed the victory.
``Every possession at that time of the game, especially when you're down, is so critical,'' Scott said. ``You can't make ill-advised passes like that, you can't try to dribble up the floor when you've got guards around. Those are the possessions we need. Those two possessions cost us four points. It's unfortunate. The second half he played much better, but those two turnovers hurt us.''
Baron Davis had 19 points, Ramon Sessions had 15 off the bench and Alonzo Gee had 14 for the Cavs, who have dropped two games in as many nights.
Davis and Sessions combined for 19 points in the third quarter to carry the Cavs back into the game after they trailed by 16 at the half.
Salmons had 32 points for the Bucks, one shy of his season-high, including 11 straight in the first quarter. Gooden had 15 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists before fouling out in the game's final minute. He had the triple-double by the start of the fourth quarter.
The Bucks are awful offensively, averaging a league-worst 91.4 points per game and shooting a league-worst 43 percent. Against the Cavs, they shot 50 percent and had scored 85 points after three quarters.
Semih Erden played on back-to-back nights and helped cover the loss of Hickson in the first half. While the groin injury is still bothering him, Erden was able to play 23 minutes, score six points and grab three rebounds.
Anthony Parker played just seven scoreless minutes and sat the second half with back spasms. Samardo Samuels missed his third consecutive game with a strained groin.