MILWAUKEE: The simple solution is to do this for every game, to allow the players to sleep in their own beds and fly into cities on game days. It worked for one night at least, and as a result, the Cavs managed to slay three losing streaks with a 94-82 victory Saturday over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Dion Waiters had 18 points, Kyrie Irving had 15 points and Tristan Thompson had his third consecutive double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Cavaliers. The win snapped their six-game losing streak, their nine-game losing streak to the Milwaukee Bucks and their dreadful 17-game losing streak against the Central Division.
“Maybe we should just fly in day of the game every trip from now on,” Cavs coach Byron Scott joked. “I really thought we played a pretty solid game.”
Inclement weather late Friday night, primarily high winds, prevented the Cavs from departing Cleveland following Friday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers. After sitting on the runway for nearly an hour, the team deplaned and headed for home. They flew out Saturday morning, arrived in Milwaukee around noon and hung out at the team hotel for a few hours before leaving for the arena.
Scott didn’t feel the need to hold a team meeting or walkthrough at the hotel, since this was already the third time these teams have met. Instead, he gave them the afternoon to relax and the players responded with their most lopsided win of the season. It surpassed their 10-point win on opening night over the Washington Wizards. It’s not much, but a 6-23 team will look for positives wherever they can find one.
“The locker room just feels better right now,” Luke Walton said.
The Cavs took advantage of a Bucks team that struggled through one of their worst shooting nights of the season. The Bucks shot a manageable 39 percent, but Monta Ellis had 37 points on 15 of 27 shooting. The rest of the team combined to shoot 31 percent one night after they beat the Boston Celtics at the Garden.
“They totally outplayed us tonight in every area,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “Right from the jump ball we looked really fatigued. We shot a couple of layups 3 feet over the rim, shot airballs. We were right and left, short and long.”
The Cavs were more than happy to watch someone else endure such a woeful shooting night. The victory was the Cavs’ first over the Bucks since Nov. 24, 2010 when Mo Williams hit a shot at the buzzer to give the Cavs the victory the night before Thanksgiving.
“That seems so long ago,” Scott said.
The Cavs carried a 46-37 lead into the half and finally held onto it after so many poor third quarters this season. The Bucks made their run, trimming the deficit to 69-59 when Scott called a timeout to slow their momentum.
“They were making a run,” Irving said. “We came out of that timeout and we pulled together and said, ‘This is not going to happen today.’”
The Bucks eventually pulled within six on a 3-pointer from Ellis, but Irving ended the quarter with a short jumper to stretch the lead back to 71-63. They began the fourth with lay-ups from Thompson and Miles and a 3-pointer from Miles to extend the lead to 78-64 and they weren’t threatened again.
Now the Cavs will take another crack at that foreign concept called a winning streak. They haven’t had one since March, but the fact they play the hapless Wizards on Wednesday – the worst team in the league – gives them an excellent shot at stringing together consecutive victories for the first time this season. As it is, Saturday’s victory marked their first of the season when playing on the second night of a back-to-back. They had lost the previous nine this year.
“We came in with the attitude we had to compete for 48 minutes,” Irving said. “The attitude is always optimistic in our locker room. We just have to believe that once we go out there and perform the way we do, the result speaks for itself.”