James returns to help Cavs down Bucks
CLEVELAND--LeBron James returned from sickness, and the Cavaliers felt a whole lot better.
Still not quite himself, James came back after missing one game with strep throat and scored 24 points, Kyrie Irving added 25 and Cleveland capped a solid February with a 102-95 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night.
James sat out Saturday’s loss to Chicago—the Cavs fell to 0-4 this season without their superstar—and was listed as questionable before arriving at Quicken Loans Arena and getting in a workout. He looked fit from the start, delivering an early dunk and adding one in the fourth that he capped by screaming, “That’s and one!” at MiIwaukee’s John Henson, who fouled him.
Malcolm Brogdon scored 20 points to lead Milwaukee, and All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo scored just nine on 4-of-13 shooting.
The Bucks may have sustained a costly injury as forward Michael Beasley sprained his left knee in the first half. Beasley’s knee buckled grotesquely as he tried to defend James on the baseline. He scored 11 points before going down and had to be helped to Milwaukee’s locker room.
Beasley left the building on crutches, and coach Jason Kidd said he will be examined when the team gets home.
“We’ll see how he is,” Kidd said. “Hopefully it’s not bad where he can get back because he’s playing at a very high level for us.”
Meanwhile, James wasn’t 100 percent, but even at less than full speed, James can dominate.
“He brings so much to our team,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “He’s just a winner. Anybody who goes to the Finals six straight times is a winner. He just makes everybody better, myself included. … That’s who he is. We needed his juice tonight.”
James’ dunk and three-point play triggered an 11-0 run that helped put away the Bucks, who were within 86-85 midway through the fourth.
After spending much of the weekend recovering, James felt he had enough energy to play and helped the Cavs close the month with a 9-2 record after going 7-8 in January.
“I felt good enough to lace them up,” James said.
Looking to stay on top in the East, the Cavs signed free agent point guard Deron Williams before the game.
The three-time All-Star gives Cleveland depth, someone to lead its second unit and a reliable backup for Irving. Williams negotiated a buyout of his contract last week with Dallas before being waived and informing the Cavs he wanted to join them and try to win a title.
Cleveland is more than happy to add him to a bench that has improved in the last month with the additions of Kyle Korver and Derrick Williams, who combined for 27 points.
“Automatic leadership,” James said when asked what Deron Williams brings to Cleveland. “He’s ran a franchise, multiple franchises before, so you know he knows how to run a ball club. He’s played in big games before, so you know he won’t shy away in the moment. And he can knock down shots and he can play make.”
Last updated: 11:44 pm Monday, February 27, 2017