Fri. Final: Cavaliers 111, Bucks 103
By Todd Welter
Next game: Sunday, February 22 vs. Denver
His coach described him as unbelievable. His teammate compared his performance to a video game. However you describe it, LeBron James put on quite a show. James scored a season-high 55 points to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 111-103 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center.
"Almost like watching a video game," teammate Zydrunas Ilgauskas said. "I tried to keep a straight face on but I just couldn't. Every shot he took I was like, 'no way.'"
Nobody in the NBA is having a better month than James. He upped his February scoring average to 35.3 points per game with a performance that dazzled the 18,000-plus that came to see him. This is his second 50-point game alone this month and his sixth career 50-point game.
"I just got in a zone," James modestly said. "I saw a few go down so I just kept at it."
He kept at it all right. James went 16-of-29 from the field and 8-of-11 from three-point range. He had 25 points at the end of the first half and then rattled off 24 points in the third quarter. The third quarter was when he was at his absolute best. He knocked down five three-pointers and was almost a one-man run as he accounted for 17 points in a 24-4 early third quarter run that put Cleveland ahead by 14.
"I'm really speechless with what he did out there in the third quarter," Cleveland head coach Mike Brown thought. "What an unbelievable performance by LeBron in that third quarter. I've been around him around four years and I get amazed with the things he does."
James got some scoring help from former Buck Mo Williams who finished with 23 points. Williams did not speak too highly of his former employer after the game.
"I think I was treated well by the Bucks. I appreciate it. It varies but I enjoy beating them-put it like that," Williams said.
Charlie Villanueva scored a team-high 26 points along with 13 rebounds for Milwaukee. The Bucks had to go without his services for the last 6:54 of the game when Villanueva was ejected after he committed a flagrant two foul on Anderson Varejao. Villanueva could possibly face a suspension as the hard foul resulted in a small scuffle between Villanueva and Ilgauskas.
"I hope they'll launch an investigation and find the sniper that shot Varejao," Bucks head coach Scott Skiles deadpanned -although Skiles did not disagree with the call. "I thought there was some acting involved."
The Bucks had a hot shooting hand to start the game as Milwaukee shot 58% in the first half. The Bucks built up a 13-point lead midway through the second quarter thanks to a 10-1 run. James rattled off 12 points that trimmed down the Bucks halftime lead to six.
The Bucks did comeback from being 14 down in the third quarter thanks to a 17-5 run late in the quarter to cut Cleveland's lead down to two. The Cavs ended up with an 86-82 lead heading into the final quarter.
Cleveland pushed the lead up to eight early in the fourth quarter but Milwaukee churned out five straight points to pull to within one with 9:07 left. The Bucks never got any closer as the Cavs (42-11) went on a 19-9 run to go up by 11 with 1:05 left.
The Bucks' (27-31) 19 turnovers in the game and shooting 39.5% in the second half did not help the cause either.
"The 19 turnovers had to do with us being too casual," Skiles thought. "It is just certain pockets of the game we appear to be easily satisfied. Against good clubs you just can't get away with that."
The Bucks will finish off a three-game homestand when Denver comes to town Sunday afternoon.
Guard Luke Ridnour returned to the Bucks lineup after missing the last five games with a fractured right thumb...Before the game, the Bucks signed Guard Eddie Gil to another ten-day contract...The loss marks the first time the Bucks have lost back-to-back games at the Bradley Center this season...The Cavaliers are 28-0 in games when they score at least 100 points.