Khris Middleton scored 27 points, Bobby Portis added 17 points and 11 rebounds, and the Giannis Antetokounmpo-less Milwaukee Bucks held off the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers 100-90 on Saturday.
Antetokounmpo, the two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, was a pre-game scratch due to back spasms, one night after taking a hard fall in the Bucks’ loss to the Utah Jazz.
Milwaukee came out strong Saturday despite its star’s absence, holding a Cleveland side dealing with its own injury issues to just 14 points in the first quarter.
The Cavaliers — playing the sixth and final game of a season-long road trip — trailed by as many as 19 points in the second quarter, playing without leading scorers Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Garland missed his fourth game with a shoulder injury, while Sexton sat out his second in a row with an ankle injury sustained Jan. 6 at Orlando.
Andre Drummond carried the scoring load for the second straight game, posting season highs of 26 points and 24 rebounds.
Drummond’s work on the interior buoyed Cleveland as it rallied from two steep deficits, trimming the 19-point first-half deficit to as few as two before intermission, and cutting a 17-point third-quarter gap to eight in the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers never came any closer down the stretch.
A Milwaukee defense that gave up 25 3-pointers in Friday’s loss held Cleveland to just 7 of 26 on Saturday. Larry Nance Jr., who finished with 17 points, led the Cavaliers by going 3-of-6 from behind the arc.
Milwaukee made just 33.3 percent from long range, almost nine percent lower than its average coming into Saturday’s game, but the Bucks knocked down five more than the visitors. Middleton and Donte DiVincenzo each made three from long range.
DiVincenzo finished with 11 points, joining Middleton, Portis, Jrue Holiday (15) and D.J. Wilson (12) in double figures.
Drummond, Nance and Damyean Dotson (a season-high 21 points) were the only Cavaliers to score in double-figures. Saturday marked the seventh consecutive game in which Cleveland failed to reach 100 points.