Cavs players and coach Byron Scott credited the Bucks with moving the ball from side to side Wednesday night and taking advantage of the creases it created in the Cavs' defense. Scott wasn't critical of the effort, as he has been in a few defeats this season. Instead, he said the Bucks simply played better than the Cavs on Wednesday.
There's a reason for that. The Bucks are a better team. Even without Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson, even with Monta Ellis in street clothes, the Bucks are better. The Cavs' inconsistency the last few weeks is consistent with a young team still figuring out how to play in the NBA.
They lost six in a row, won three straight and have now dropped a pair of winnable games against the Raptors and Bucks. The Cavs are young and they play hard, but they aren't very talented. The Bucks are the same way, but Ersan Ilyasova has been terrific the last couple of weeks, Brandon Jennings can be a scoring machine and Drew Gooden just loves to torture his old team. Add Monta Ellis to this mix and the Bucks, given the implosion in New York, just might be the favorites now to secure the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks are similar to the Cavs in how hard they play. It's required under a coach like Scott Skiles, who is just as militant as Byron Scott, but without Scott's cheery demeanor. Skiles' teams will always play hard, which is why they'll always be a tough matchup for a Cavs team that is young and not very talented yet.
There were some good things to come out of tonight, namely Kyrie Irving rediscovering his shooting stroke and Alonzo Gee's continued emergence as a consistent scoring option. Most nights this season, the bulk of the Cavs' scoring falls on Antawn Jamison and Kyrie Irving. If either is injured or having an off shooting night, the Cavs stand little chance of winning.
That's why Gee's continued development is important. Scott believes he can evolve into that third guy, but it won't happen this season. That will be Gee's homework assignment for this summer. For now, the Cavs will continue to endure highs and lows like this. It's the nature of the beast with a team this young.
Kyrie Irving 28 points, 5 assists
Alonzo Gee 19 points, 5 rebounds
Antawn Jamison 13 points, 5 rebounds
Daniel Gibson 18 points, 5-8 3-pointers
Ersan Ilysova 22 points, 8 rebounds
Drew Gooden 15 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists*
Luc Mbah a Moute 12 points, 13 rebounds^
Brandon Jennings 17 points, 7 assists
Carlos Delfino 17 points, 7 rebounds
* - tied career high; ^ - season high
Drew Gooden has two triple-doubles and both of them have come against the Cavs. He has finished a game with double figures in assists twice in his career -- both against the Cavs.
The Cavs went scoreless for nearly 3 1/2 minutes in the fourth quarter, allowing the Bucks to blow the lead out to 111-93 with two minutes to play.
“When we allow a team to shoot the ball that well and get that many layups, it puts too much pressure on us offensively. We’re not there yet offensively where we can allow teams to have that type of field day in the paint against us.” -- Byron Scott
The Cavs (16-25) host the Atlanta Hawks (24-19) at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena.