Cavaliers 79, Bucks 78
MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Terrell Brandon broke free from Elliot Perry for the go-ahead basket with three seconds left, then blanketed him at the other end to secure the victory for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Brandon’s 23 points and tenacious defense lifted the Cavaliers over the Bucks 79-78 Tuesday night.
He faked out Perry for an 18-footer that proved to be the game-winner.
``It’s a dream to hit a shot like that at the end of the game,″ Brandon said. ``I was asked to execute down the stretch for the team. I’m happy for the team and for the win.″
The Bucks tried to get the ball into Perry for the final shot, but Brandon had him covered so well that the Bucks had to call a timeout. Milwaukee finally tossed the ball into Vin Baker, who missed at the buzzer.
``I had a smile on my face in the second half because this was a great game to play in,″ Brandon said.
Perry, whose off-balance 3-pointer gave Milwaukee a 78-75 lead with 1:09 remaining, also missed two free throws with 18.1 seconds left and the Bucks clinging to a 78-77 lead.
``I’ll put my money on Elliot at the free throw line every time,″ Bucks coach Chris Ford said. ``It’s a tough one to lose because we played so hard.″
Perry was glum in the locker room and Ford called him over to console him. They spoke for several minutes and then a team spokesman said Perry wouldn’t be coming out to answer questions.
Chris Mills grabbed Perry’s second miss and called timeout with 17.7 seconds remaining. Brandon was tied up on the baseline by Perry and had to call another timeout with 9.4 seconds left.
Brandon then got free for a wide open shot with three seconds left.
The Bucks called consecutive timeouts before Baker was wide on an off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer.
``We were looking to get the ball to our point guard so he could get penetration,″ Bucks forward Glenn Robinson said.
The Cavaliers, who blew a 14-point third-period lead, snapped a three-game skid and the Bucks lost their fourth straight, falling a season-high four games below .500. Three of those losses have come at the Bradley Center, which was about half-empty Tuesday night.
Baker, who lashed out against his teammates for a lack of effort following a 109-100 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday night, took solace in the strong second half.
``I said before the game that this was gut check time to see how bad this team wanted to win,″ Baker said. ``And I really think we passed the test.″
Baker scored just 13 points and Robinson, who has slumped since being snubbed for the All-Star game, added just 12 for Milwaukee. Both were averaging more than 21 points.
Perry led the Bucks with 16 points and Ray Allen had 15.
The Cavaliers, who have won just four of their last 15, held the Bucks to 29 first-half points, including 12 in the second period. They took a 41-29 halftime lead by closing with an 11-2 run.
Cleveland stretched its lead to 51-37 on Bob Sura’s layup in the third period, but the Bucks whittled away and pulled to 65-64 with nine minutes left in the game.
``When you have a tough stretch like we’ve had, we’re satisfied with any type of win,″ Cavaliers coach Mike Fratello said.
Notes: The fewest points Milwaukee ever scored in a quarter (eight) and half (24) came on Nov. 15, 1994, against Indiana ... The loudest ovation of the night went to Super Bowl MVP Desmond Howard of the world champion Green Bay Packers. He participated in a free throw shooting contest with teammate William Henderson between the first and second periods.