Cavs clinch division, 2nd seed, 104-99 over Bucks
MILWAUKEE (AP) Kyrie Irving scored 27 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers held on to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 104-99 on Wednesday night, clinching the Central Division title and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
LeBron James scored 21 points with nine rebounds and eight assists for the Cavs, including 10 points in the fourth quarter. Kevin Love added 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Michael Carter-Williams scored 30 points for the Bucks, while Zaza Pachulia added 19 points and 10 rebounds. Milwaukee played without Giannis Antetokounmpo, although it wasn't immediately clear why he sat out.
Bucks coach Jason Kidd said before the game that Antetokounmpo wouldn't start, saying only, ''just making a change.'' Coming into Wednesday, Antetokounmpo had started 67 of the 77 games he played in this season.
Having given up a comfortable lead in the third quarter, the Cavaliers were leading by two with just over six minutes remaining when James - with only 13 points at that point - went on a scoring spurt. James hit a driving layup on one possession, then soared for a put-back slam to give Cleveland a 92-86 lead with 5:25 left.
O.J. Mayo hit a 3-pointer for Milwaukee, but Iman Shumpert slammed back a miss by James and Kevin Love hit a layup for a 96-89 Cleveland lead.
Still, the Bucks had a chance until the end, cutting the Cavs' lead to two on a driving layup by Mayo with 35.5 seconds left. James hit a 3-pointer with 14.1 seconds to go, but Michael Carter-Williams responded with a driving layup to cut the lead back to 3 with 9.7 remaining.
Irving hit a pair of free throws to put the game away.
Cavaliers: James had an acrobatic slam dunk early in the third quarter, on a long outlet pass by Irving. . The Cavaliers took a 52-44 lead into halftime after hitting three 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the first half, including a pair by Irving in the final minute. . Shumpert piled up three fouls in five minutes of playing time early in the second quarter.
Bucks: Carter-Williams took a sharp forearm to the face from Tristan Thompson on a rebound in the third quarter. After a review, officials called it a flagrant-1 foul. . The Bucks honored recently retired Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig at the end of the first quarter. Selig, a Milwaukee native, received a warm round of applause.
Cavaliers: Friday night vs. Boston.
Bucks: Friday night at New York.