CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers handed a game to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
Cleveland committed a whopping 27 turnovers, the most in a regulation game in the NBA this season, while losing 90-86 in front of 14,146 disgruntled fans and equally unhappy coach Byron Scott.
“It’s pretty simple,” Scott said. “When you come out with the lack of energy we came out with and commit 27 turnovers, you’re not going to win a lot of games.”
Point guard Kyrie Irving, who didn’t speak with the media because he was getting his face checked out by doctors after taking a hard fall in the first quarter, led Cleveland with 26 points, but he also led the way with six turnovers and had his defensive effort questioned by Scott.
Irving, who flew with the team for tonight’s game in New York, began the game on Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings and the Cavs fell behind 25-17 after the first quarter, prompting Scott to take Alonzo Gee off Milwaukee’s Monta Ellis and put him on Jennings.
Asked why he made the move, Scott said, “Kyrie wasn’t guarding him. (Jennings) was going wherever he wanted, but so were the rest of their guys.”
Scott said Gee’s willingness to pick up Jennings (5-for-20 shooting) full court helped the Cavs take a third-quarter lead after falling behind by 16 in the second period, but another problem surfaced.
Irving couldn’t guard Ellis, either, as the Bucks shooting guard finished with a season-high 33 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists and six turnovers.
“He’s taken a couple steps back, but it’s something he can correct,” Scott said when questioned further about Irving’s defense. “Defense is something you don’t have to have a lot of talent to do. But you do have to have a whole lot of heart and a whole lot of desire.”
Irving, who was 9-for-23 from the field and had half as many assists as he did turnovers, also wasn’t great at the offensive end, but he had a ton of company in that regard.
Tyler Zeller, Daniel Gibson and C.J. Miles had four turnovers each, with Gibson having no assists, Zeller notching one and Miles contributing two. Anderson Varejao, who left the game midway through the second quarter and didn’t start the third period due to a lower left leg contusion, had three turnovers.
“I had a couple stupid plays and as a team we had a couple stupid plays,” Zeller said. “We’ve just got to make sure we get rid of those.”
The Cavs (5-19), who got 17 points from Miles and 18 rebounds from Varejao, were also guilty of errors of omission against the Bucks (12-9).
Time and again down the stretch, Cleveland passed up open shots and ended up having to take extremely difficult attempts to beat the shot clock — if it got up shots at all.
From Zeller repeatedly pump-faking instead of shooting to Miles, Irving and Varejao attempting to throw bounce passes past long-armed Milwaukee defenders, the Cavs were a mess.
Cleveland’s 27 turnovers were its most in a game since committing 28 at Denver on Jan. 17, 2003.
“There were times tonight when I had no idea what we were running,” Scott said. “We were fighting ourselves more than anything.”
Cleveland was without Dion Waiters (sprained ankle) and Omri Casspi (gastroenteritis), but Milwaukee was minus Cavs killer Mike Dunleavy (bruised knee), Beno Udrih (sprained ankle) and Tobias Harris (elbow laceration).
“The way we played tonight, the way we played in the second half, it was terrible,” Varejao said. “We can’t play like that. We have to play with more energy.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bucks 90, Cavaliers 86
MILWAUKEE (90): Daniels 2-5 0-0 5, Mbah a Moute 4-7 1-4 9, Sanders 4-7 2-2 10, Jennings 5-20 4-4 16, Ellis 12-24 8-11 33, Ilyasova 4-10 2-2 11, Udoh 1-3 1-2 3, Lamb 0-5 1-2 1, Gooden 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 33-83 19-27 90.
CLEVELAND (86): Gee 4-8 0-0 9, Thompson 1-5 3-4 5, Varejao 4-9 0-0 8, Irving 9-23 6-6 26, Miles 6-14 2-2 17, Gibson 4-10 0-0 11, Zeller 2-7 2-2 6, Sloan 1-3 0-0 2, Samuels 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 32-81 13-14 86.
Milwaukee 25 27 20 18 — 90
Cleveland 17 26 24 19 — 86
3-Point Goals—Milwaukee 5-15 (Jennings 2-9, Daniels 1-1, Ilyasova 1-1, Ellis 1-4), Cleveland 9-18 (Miles 3-5, Gibson 3-7, Irving 2-5, Gee 1-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Milwaukee 55 (Sanders 10), Cleveland 53 (Varejao 18). Assists—Milwaukee 23 (Jennings 8), Cleveland 21 (Gee 5). Total Fouls—Milwaukee 18, Cleveland 22. A—14,146 (20,562).
• WHO: Cleveland vs. New York
• TIME: 7:30
• WHERE: Madison Square Garden
• TV/RADIO: FS Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM