Ellis scores 30 points, Bucks fend off Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers never did.
"When it feels like that, it feels amazing," Ellis said. "My team and coach had the confidence to keep going to me, and I was just making shots."
Was he ever.
Ellis scored 16 of his 30 points in the final 5 minutes, helping the Milwaukee Bucks fend off a Cleveland team missing Kyrie Irving for a 107-98 victory Wednesday night.
Beginning with a jumper at the 4:32 mark, Ellis hit the Bucks' last eight shots of the game — exactly the kind of scorching scoring touch the Bucks wanted when they made their big trade with Golden State last month.
"He's so deadly from 19-20 feet on in," Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. "You've just got to give him credit. He was the closer for them tonight. He did a real good job at the end of the game knocking down shots."
The Bucks have won four of their past five to close within a game of New York for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks were off Wednesday.
Jennings scored 19 points, and Ersan Ilyasova added 18 for Milwaukee.
"I think Brandon got hot first and then Monta got hotter," Bucks forward Larry Sanders said. "That's a recipe for victory right there, with those two guys."
Anthony Parker tied a career high with 27 points for the Cavaliers, who have lost nine straight and 12 of 13.
"We had some great looks," Parker said. "Unfortunately, it was one of those days where some of the easier shots that we usually convert on weren't just fallen."
Cleveland looked lost early on without Irving, who reinjured his sprained right shoulder Tuesday night in a blowout loss to San Antonio. Scott said before the game that he has considered shutting Irving down for the final few weeks of the season.
"We came out, played well in the first quarter and then they won the last three quarters," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "It's a team, you feel like, we should handle a little bit easier than we did. But we won the game, which is good to see, and made some shots."
Antawn Jamison scored 17 points for Cleveland on 6-of-17 shooting.
Scott said his team needed to take advantage of inside scoring chances.
"Against this team, you're going to have to score," Scott said. "They just have too many guys that can flat out put the ball in the basket. We missed 30 shots inside the paint. That makes it real tough on you."
It was the first of five straight home games for the Bucks — and that isn't necessarily a good thing, given the fact that the Bucks are 13-12 at home, even after starting the season 7-2.
Wednesday night's win might not have happened without the late scoring surge by Ellis.
Ellis and Jennings provided an early highlight midway through the third quarter, when Ellis came up with a steal, charged out on a fast break and flipped the ball up for an alley-oop slam by Jennings. Milwaukee led 79-68 going into the fourth.
Alonzo Gee scored on a putback to cut the lead to nine early in the fourth, but Milwaukee answered with an 8-0 run that included a pair of layups by Jennings. Cleveland answered with a 7-0 run and trailed by 10 with 6:20 left, and cut the lead to six at 93-87 on Jamison's 3-pointer.
Ellis answered with a driving layup — the second basket in his late scoring spurt — and took over from there, knocking down six more jumpers to end the game.
"We knew coming into the game they were going to play hard all the way until the end," Ellis said. "There'll be games like that, and we just have to find a way to win. And we did."
Milwaukee appeared to have the game under control early on.
The Bucks led 53-39 at the half — the 11th time they've scored 50-plus points in the first half in their past 12 games.
Notes: Bucks center Drew Gooden sat out because of back soreness. Gooden has had two career triple-doubles, both against Cleveland. Ekpe Udoh started in Gooden's place. ... Milwaukee also was without Carlos Delfino because of a right groin injury.