NBA Game Summary - Milwaukee at Cleveland
(Wednesday, March 4th)
Final Score: Cleveland 91, Milwaukee 73
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - LeBron James scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds as the Cleveland Cavaliers clinched a playoff spot with a 91-73 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at Quicken Loans Arena.
Cleveland, the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season in the NBA, is 36 games over .500 (48-12) for the first time in franchise history.
"That's good to know, but we're a playoff team," said Cleveland head coach Mike Brown. "From the first day I got here, I believed we were a playoff team. We expect to be in the playoffs, so it's good."
Mo Williams added 15 points for the Cavaliers, who improved to 27-1 on their home floor this season. Zydrunas Ilgauskas ended with 14 points and five rebounds. Delonte West had 13 points and a career-high eight steals, while Wally Szczerbiak added 11 points off the bench in Cleveland's ninth win in 10 games.
The Cavs currently hold the top seed in the Eastern Conference and will travel to Boston on Friday to play the Celtics, who also clinched a playoff spot Wednesday with a victory at New Jersey.
"We have one goal and that is to win an NBA championship," said James. "The minor goals are to keep getting better every day, try to improve each game and not take a step back."
Milwaukee was paced by Richard Jefferson, who finished with 29 points. Luc Mbah a Moute ended with 12 points and seven boards for the Bucks, who have dropped six of their last eight outings. Ramon Sessions finished with 10 points, eight helpers, and six rebounds in defeat.
"They played better than us in almost all areas. It wasn't that we didn't play hard, but they played harder than us," said Milwaukee head coach Scott Skiles.
Ahead 76-68 with 8:15 remaining, the Cavs essentially sealed the win by rattling off 15 consecutive points to take a 91-68 lead with over three minutes to play. Darnell Jackson connected on a pair of foul shots to culminate the run, which was highlighted by a James step-back trey from the corner.
After holding onto a slim margin for the majority of the first quarter, the Cavs took a 22-20 edge into the second frame.
Cleveland went on a 9-2 spurt to open the second stanza. Szczerbiak's deuce capped off the surge, extending the Cavaliers' lead to 31-22 with under seven minutes left until the half. But the Bucks responded with six unanswered points to cut the gap to three with about 5 1/2 minutes to go.
The Cavs fired back with nine straight points to build a 40-28 cushion. James tallied five points during the flurry and hit a three-pointer to cap the run with under three minutes remaining. Cleveland took a 48-39 advantage into the locker room.
James scored 13 first-half points, while Jefferson tallied 17 points to pace Milwaukee. The Cavs hit 51.6 percent of their shots while holding the Bucks to 36.8 percent shooting during the initial 24 minutes.
Cleveland held onto around an eight-point lead for most of the third period. James drilled a shot from beyond the arc in the final seconds of the frame to give the Cavs a 72-58 gap heading to the final stanza.
Cleveland shot 9-of-17 from three-point land, while Milwaukee went 4-of-18 from beyond the arc...The Cavs had 14 steals, compared to seven for the Bucks...Cleveland swept the season series from Milwaukee for the first time since winning all four meetings in 2006-07. The Cavs won all four matchups this season and have taken 12 of the past 15 encounters between the clubs...Cleveland reportedly signed recently released forward Joe Smith for the remainder of the season on Wednesday.
03/05 00:15:08 ET