MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks avoided clinching the worst record in the NBA with a 119-116 win over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night.
The Bucks came out on top in a fast-paced, back-and-forth fourth quarter in which the lead changed five times.
A pair of free throws from forward Jeff Adrien put Milwaukee up by six points with 43.9 seconds left in the game. After guard Dion Waiters cut the lead to four with a floater, guard Brandon Knight missed a jumper, giving Cleveland the ball with 8.9 seconds on the clock.
Point guard Kyrie Irving’s long 3-point attempt missed the basket and was pulled down by guard Giannis Antetokounmpo to seal the win for Milwaukee.
Knight led Milwaukee with 24 points while guard Ramon Sessions added 20 on his birthday.
Forward Chris Wright had a highlight-reel night with several huge dunks, including two alley-oops off feeds from Knight and Antetokounmpo in the first half. Wright scored 14 points, pulled down four rebounds and recorded a block in 17 minutes off the bench.
Waiters led Cleveland with 23 points and guard Jarrett Jack picked up 19 off the bench. Forward Tristan Thompson had a nice night under the basket for the Cavaliers with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Milwaukee led 37-32 after the first quarter but Waiters got going in the second with 13 points, sparking a 23-4 Cleveland run. Knight and forward Khris Middleton helped the Bucks narrow the deficit to 69-62 with six points each to close out the half.
Waiters hit the ground hard after a foul on a dunk attempt, but recovered to make both free throws to put the Cavaliers up by five with 5:35 left in the third quarter.
A triple from Knight followed by a layup from center John Henson gave Milwaukee an 87-86 lead with just under three minutes remaining in the quarter.
Forward Tyler Zeller cut the Milwaukee advantage to 92-91 with a hook shot, then put back a Waiters miss to retake the lead for Cleveland with 10:27 left in the game. Jack pushed the Cavaliers’ lead to 96-92 with a 3-pointer, but Wright and Sessions scored back-to-back to tie the game at 96.
Knight buried a trifecta to give the Bucks a 103-102 lead with 6:18 left in the contest, but Irving answered with a jumper.
Both teams will not make the playoffs this year, but still put on a good show as the season winds down.
NOTES: The Cavaliers came into Friday night’s contest looking to finish the season strong despite being eliminated from playoff contention earlier this week. … The Bucks had lost nine of their last 10 and with a loss would clinch the NBA’s worst record with three games remaining. … This was the fourth and final meeting between the teams this season with Cleveland taking the previous two contests at Quicken Loans Arena. … The Cavs were without F Anthony Bennett (left patellar tendon strain), G C.J. Miles (left ankle sprain) and G-F Carrick Felix (left patellar stress fracture). … The absence of G-F Carlos Delfino (right foot surgery), F Ersan Ilyasova (sore right ankle), G Nate Wolters (fractured left hand), G O.J. Mayo (sprained right ankle) and C Larry Sanders (suspension) caused the Bucks to play with just four reserves.
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