Antetokounmpo, Bucks hold off Cavaliers, 119-116

The Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks have blown big fourth-quarter leads far too many times this season, leading to disheartening losses.

The Bucks wasted another sizeable advantage in the final period Tuesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but fought back this time to capture a 119-116 win.

“It was a big step for our team. It shows maturity,” said Giannis Antetokounmpo, who led the Bucks with 27 points. “Usually, in a situation like that, we give the game away.”

Eric Bledsoe scored 26 points for Milwaukee, which ended a five-game losing streak to Cleveland. Khris Middleton had 18 points and 10 assists, and Malcolm Brogdon finished with 16 points.

“We kind of bent but we didn’t break,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “Giannis made plays down the stretch. We stayed together. We are playing against one of the best teams in the world.”

LeBron James scored 39 points for the Cavs, who lost for just the second time in their last 20 games. James had seven assists but grabbed just one rebound in the waning seconds. Kevin Love added 21 points.

After a slow start, the Bucks got to the Cavaliers for 39 second-quarter points. Milwaukee cracked the 100-point barrier early in the fourth, but then stalled.

Milwaukee led 103-83 when Cleveland launched a furious comeback with James on the bench. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Dwyane Wade put the Cavaliers up 107-105, capping a 24-3 run and giving the visitors their first lead since the second quarter.

“Obviously, tonight (Wade) showed what he’s capable of still doing,” James said. “It’s a luxury having a guy like that coming off the bench.”

A 3-pointer by Brogdon put the Bucks back in front with 3:38 remaining. A traditional three-point play by James put the Cavaliers ahead 113-112 with about two minutes left.

Tony Snell responded with a 3-pointer for Milwaukee with 58.9 seconds remaining. After a Cleveland miss, Antetokounmpo grabbed a loose ball, hit a short shot and was fouled. His free throw gave the Bucks a 117-113 lead with 5.9 seconds to go.

Wade finished with 14 points for Cleveland, and Jeff Green had 13.