MILWAUKEE — Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said he’s sticking with Delonte West. The troubled guard showed for a game that Cleveland’s faith in him could pay off.
“He started for us on a 66-win team last year,” Brown said. “We know what he’s definitely capable of. We’re going to be patient with him. The team’s going to be patient, I’m going to be patient and just continue kind of plugging along.”
Playing 24 minutes in a reserve role, West scored 14 of his season-high 21 points in a 29-0 first-half run to lead the streaking Cavaliers to a 101-86 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday.
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“When he gets his opportunity and he’s playing well, we’ll keep playing him,” Brown said. “But we won’t expect that every night.”
LeBron James had 14 points and 10 assists for his fourth straight double-double. After opening the season 3-3, the Cavaliers have gone 12-2 to improve to 15-5.
Former Bucks guard Mo Williams scored 13 points for the Cavs, Shaquille O’Neal had 10 points in just over 15 minutes, and Anderson Varejao added 12 rebounds.
Cleveland’s big run straddled the first and second quarters and was the biggest scoreless streak in the NBA this season, according to research by STATS, LLC.
“I didn’t know it was 29-0. I knew we went on a big run. It’s a good feeling, I hope I can have that feeling a lot more, but it may not happen,” Brown said. “I’ll think about it tonight when I’m having barbecue in Memphis.”
James said it was the biggest run he’d been a part of since he was a prep star.
“I’ve been on 75-0 runs before in high school,” James joked.
Bucks rookie Brandon Jennings scored 15 of his 24 points in the second half after Milwaukee was in a big hole. The Bucks trailed 52-33 at the half and 75-57 heading into the fourth.
That was mostly because of the play of West, who had his best performance so far this season after a rocky summer. West has been working through personal and legal issues after being arrested in September in Washington and declined to comment after the game through a team spokeswoman.
Cleveland trailed 11-0 after missing its first four shots, but it changed quickly.
The run started on Anthony Parker’s jumper to cut Milwaukee’s lead to 17-12. Cleveland had a 21-17 lead after the first quarter and West opened the second with 14 straight points to reach a season high in just over four minutes.
James was jumping for joy from the bench watching West’s performance.
“Absolutely,” James said. “We know how tough we are to beat when Delonte’s at a high level.”
Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ layup made it 39-17 as Milwaukee missed 12 straight shots to start the second quarter and went more than 11 minutes without a point before Carlos Delfino hit a turnaround jumper with 5:11 left in the half.
“Nobody was able to take the lid off for us,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said.
O’Neal then added eight straight points, including an alley-oop from James that made it 47-21.
The last time James was in Milwaukee on Feb. 20 he scored 55 points and this matchup featured the two youngest players to ever score at least that many at age 20 with James (56 in 2005) and Jennings (55 on Nov. 14).
The two got together once in the third quarter when Jennings went behind the back to get in the lane and saw his layup attempt swatted by James, drawing “oohs” from the crowd. But James was impressed with Jennings.
“It’s very tough to be a superstar in this league, but right now he’s doing an unbelievable job for this team, for this franchise and he’s only going to get better,” James said.
Milwaukee (9-10) started 8-3 as a surprise in the Eastern Conference, but slipped below .500 for the first time since opening the season with losses in two of its first three. The Bucks shot 37.6 percent and went 4-for-20 from 3-point range.
“When they were pulling away we needed to be able to make some plays on one end or the other,” Skiles said. “Both went south on us at the same time.”
- The Bucks played Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” as James and the Cavaliers were introduced, an apparent jab at the franchise because James can opt out of his contract at the end of this season and become a free agent.
- Skiles returned from a one-game suspension after being ejected during a loss Wednesday night at Washington.
- The Bucks were without Michael Redd (sore left knee) for a fifth straight game.
- Who: Cleveland at Memphis
- When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.
- Where: FedExForum
- TV/radio: FS Ohio; WEOL 930-AM (join in progress), WTAM 1100-AM