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Miller comes off bench, boosts Cavs past Bucks

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CLEVELAND — Desperate for a spark from his anemic bench, Cleveland coach David Blatt turned to Mike Miller. The veteran guard delivered the Cavaliers their fourth consecutive victory.

Forward Kevin Love had 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Miller added two big 3-pointers in the second half and a key block late in the Cavs’ 111-108 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.

“We were in trouble, we had to change something,” Blatt said. “We went to Mike, and he answered the call in a big way.”

The Cavs’ bench was outscored 21-2 in the first half, so Blatt sent in Miller, who hadn’t played at all during the winning streak. In fact, Miller played just 34 minutes in the previous eight games prior to Tuesday.

He immediately made a big 3-pointer in the third quarter to cool the Bucks’ momentum. The Cavs were trailing by 11 at the time, but Cleveland scored nine points in one minute beginning with Miller’s shot. Never known for his defense, Miller rejected a shot by Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim, which led to a three-point play in transition by Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving.

Cavaliers forward LeBron James followed with a blow-by around Antetokounmpo after another defensive stop, and the Bucks were forced to call a timeout trailing 94-89 with 3:48 left.

Miller added another critical 3-pointer, and the Cavs (9-7) led the rest of the way. He finished with six points and seven rebounds, but Blatt felt he inspired confidence in the rest of the players even after not playing for so long.

“It’s tough,” Miller said. “All you want in any profession is consistency, but we have a lot of talent on this team. Who knows what the next game will bring? Always stay ready and see how it goes next game.”

Love enjoyed another fast start with 17 points in the first quarter, but he ended the game on the bench with leg cramps after playing 40 minutes. James added 26 points and 10 assists, and Irving had 28 points and six assists. All three of the Cavs’ stars played at least 40 minutes.

Forward Jabari Parker, whom the Cavs passed on with the No. 1 pick in June’s draft, followed up his 19-point performance Saturday against the Houston Rockets with perhaps his finest all-around game as a pro. He had 22 points and eight rebounds, just shy of his career high of 23 points set in a triple-overtime game last month at Brooklyn.

Parker made 11 of 15 shots from the field Tuesday on an array of dunks and jumpers, including a thunderous one-handed dunk down the middle of the lane in the second half.

“It doesn’t matter,” Parker said. “If we lose, it’s out the window. That’s all I care about. I don’t care about stats. You’ve got to get the win. That’s all that counts.”

Guard Brandon Knight added 27 points, six rebounds and eight assists for the Bucks (10-9), who dropped their second straight despite playing well in both losses.

The Bucks led 74-63 following a dunk by guard O.J. Mayo midway through the third quarter, but the Cavs pulled even at 79 entering the fourth.

A 3-pointer from Love tied the game at 89 with 4:44 left. The Bucks trailed the rest of the way.

“The last five minutes was a stretch we really let go of the game,” Parker said. “We made silly mistakes, gave them easy baskets.”

NOTES: There were pre-draft reports that F Jabari Parker “tanked” his workout with the Cavaliers, who held the No. 1 pick, because he wasn’t interested in playing in Cleveland. “If you’d have seen it for yourself, you’d be able to judge it the right way,” Parker said. “I don’t waste other people’s time.” … Bucks F Ersan Ilyasova entered the night with at least 10 points in his last eight games, all off the bench. He had just nine points Tuesday. … Cleveland F LeBron James said he has not discarded his pregame chalk toss even though he hadn’t done it the past few games. … G A.J. Price is back with the Cavs after they released him shortly after the start of the season. Price said he was headed to China when the Indiana Pacers called and persuaded him to stay. He did not play Tuesday.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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