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Jan 16, 2024 2:27 pm

Climbing Cavs owe Bucks for December defeat

Ascending in the standings on the strength of a season-high five-game winning streak, the Cleveland Cavaliers welcome the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night with revenge on their minds.

Winners of 10 of their last 13 games overall, the surging Cavaliers owe the Bucks one in return for Milwaukee’s 119-111 victory in Cleveland on Dec. 29.

Donovan Mitchell scored 34 points and Jarrett Allen collected 10 points and 14 rebounds in Cleveland’s 109-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Monday. Caris LeVert contributed 16 points, seven boards and seven assists off the bench for the Cavaliers, who tightened up defensively and held the Bulls to just 14 points in the fourth quarter.

“We got to a point where the guys knew it was winning time, and just found a way to dig it out,” Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “To come out with a 14-point fourth quarter is elite, and it’s what our defense is capable of. But to be able to do it when it matters most, to be able to do it on command, you’ll give yourself a chance if you can do that in the fourth quarter.”

Mitchell also scored 34 points and Allen added a career-high 30 to go along with 12 boards and six assists in the Cavaliers’ setback to the Bucks on Dec. 29 in Cleveland.

Allen is averaging 18.8 points and 15.1 rebounds during his run of nine straight double-double performances.

While Bickerstaff was quick to credit his defense in the Cavaliers’ last outing, the Bucks have been flexing their offensive muscle during their three-game win streak. Milwaukee answered 135- and 129-point performances with 143 in a one-point victory in overtime versus the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

Damian Lillard capped the offensive fireworks by sinking a 3-pointer at the buzzer against Sacramento.

“It’s not my first rodeo, man,” Lillard said with a smile.

Lillard finished with 29 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo collected 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists while playing through a right shoulder contusion.

“I just want to play games,” Antetokounmpo said, per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “I just played a lot of games. What is this Game 40? I’ve only missed one game, which I’m very proud of. I just want to be available for my team because I had an offseason where I wasn’t really playing basketball, I wasn’t able to participate with the (Greek) national team or practice, so basically this is my practice.

“As much as I can be available for the team and available for myself being out there I try to work through habits with the team and movements and all that. I want to be able to do this, this year.”

Antetokounmpo contributed 34 points and 16 boards in the first encounter against Cleveland.

Khris Middleton sat out Sunday’s game due to load management related to his knee. That was one day after he made 10 of 13 shots from the floor as part of his 24-point, 10-assist performance in Milwaukee’s 129-118 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

–Field Level Media

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