CLEVELAND - There was absolutely no defense for the Cavaliers - figuratively or literally.
Playing against a Milwaukee Bucks team that had not won a road game all season, the Cavaliers jumped to an early 14-point lead, then took a long snooze and fell 111-107 Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
"It was (a lack of) weak-side defense, it was (a lack of) pick-and-roll defense, it was (a lack of) transition defense," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "You name it.
"Tonight it was everything. We were awful."
The Bucks (5-4), who had been 0-4 on the road, got 54 points, 13 rebounds and
15 assists from their starting backcourt of Michael Redd and Mo Williams while dropping the Cavaliers` record to 5-6.
Redd had 18 of his season-high 34 points in the third period, when Milwaukee poured in 35 points to turn a 53-49 halftime deficit into an 84-80 lead. The Ohio State product, who had 16 points in the first 6:14 of the third, added seven rebounds and six assists while going 15-of-20 at the line.
"We know what he`s capable of doing," said LeBron James, who led the Cavaliers with 34 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. "He showcased his talents and led his team to victory tonight."
Williams added 24 points, six rebounds and a season-high nine assists while repeatedly breaking down Cleveland`s porous defense, while another guard, Royal Ivey, who had scored 10 points all year, poured in 15 points off the bench.
Want more? The Bucks also got 17 points and nine boards from Charlie Villanueva â€“ the rebounds were a season high and the points tied his season high â€“ as their reserves recorded a 34-15 edge in points and an 18-5 margin in rebounds.
"Their bench came in and really handed it to us," Brown said.
Daniel Gibson backed James in scoring with a regular-season, career-high 26 points, including 5-of-8 3-pointers, but the second-year pro didn`t keep anyone in front of him at the defensive end all night. Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 16 points and 12 boards and Drew Gooden had 11 points and 13 rebounds.
"We`ve got to figure out what our identity is," Brown said. "It`s not to run and gun and trade baskets with people like we do now."
And to think things started out so well for the Cavaliers, who had won seven straight overall against Milwaukee and eight in a row at The Q. Cleveland led 22-8 with 4:47 left in the first quarter and appeared headed for a blowout, but failed to go for the jugular against a weaker opponent that was ready to quit.
"That`s all about developing that killer instinct," Gibson said. "We have to understand that teams are going to keep fighting and we can`t ease up at all."
Because the Cavaliers did let up, the Bucks were able to regroup after a 4-of-17 start from the field and make 34 of their last 63 shots.
"We tend to relax," Brown said. "We tend to float. We tend to go away from what our focus is on both ends of the floor.
"When we get ahead, we don`t execute. We try to get cute out in transition. We try to get cute in the half-court."
The results are often ugly, which is why the Bucks scored 90 points over the final three periods, went 30-of-41 at the line for the night and recorded 21 points off Cleveland turnovers.
Milwaukee did try to blow a nine-point lead in the final 1:15 of the game, but the Cavaliers had already dug too deep of a hole.
"We didn`t defend all night," James said. "We gave them an opportunity to get back in the game."
The news got worse for the Cavaliers after the game, when it was announced power forward Donyell Marshall will miss six to eight more weeks due to his sprained right wrist.
That means the Cavaliers will continue to operate shorthanded, but their superstar is not close to hitting the panic button.
"We`re not soul-searching or anything like that," James said. "It`s not a problem.
"We know what we need to clean up. Defensively we weren`t in tune and they made us pay for it."
Contact Rick Noland may be reached at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bucks 111, Cavs 107
MILWAUKEE (111): Mason 3-8 0-1 6, Yi 2-5 1-2 5, Bogut 5-9 2-2 12, Williams 7-15 5-8 20, Redd 8-15 15-20 34, Villanueva 6-11 4-4 17, Simmons 1-6 0-0 2, Bell 0-3 0-0 0, Gadzuric 0-1 0-0 0, Ivey 6-7 3-4 15. Totals 38-80 30-41 111.
CLEVELAND (107): James 11-22 11-12 34, Gooden 3-8 5-6 11, Ilgauskas 8-16 0-0 16, Pavlovic 2-8 0-0 5, Gibson 9-15 3-4 26, D.Brown 4-8 0-1 9, Newble 0-1 2-2 2, Da.Jones 1-3 0-0 2, Dw.Jones 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 39-83 21-25 107.
MilwaukeeÂ Â 21Â Â Â 28Â Â 35Â Â Â Â 27Â - Â Â Â 111
ClevelandÂ Â Â 31Â Â Â 22Â Â Â 27Â Â Â Â 27 - Â Â Â 107
3-Point Goals - Milwaukee 5-14 (Redd 3-5, Villanueva 1-1, Williams 1-4, Ivey 0-1, Simmons 0-3), Cleveland 8-21 (Gibson 5-8, Pavlovic 1-1, D.Brown 1-2, James 1-7, Dw.Jones 0-1, Da.Jones 0-2). Fouled Out - None. Rebounds - Milwaukee 50 (Villanueva 9), Cleveland 51 (Gooden 13). Assists - Milwaukee 22 (Williams 9), Cleveland 19 (James 7). Total Fouls - Milwaukee 21, Cleveland 31. Technicals - Williams, Milwaukee defensive three second 2, Gooden. A - 20,115 (20,562).