MILWAUKEE: With 3:49 left in the third quarter and the Cavaliers behind by 11, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue had seen enough. Enough of the uncontested drives through the middle of the defense, enough of the highlight-reel dunks and enough of J.R. being J.R.
Lue yanked all of his regulars and went with a hockey line change of little-used reserves, including Chris Andersen, Jordan McRae and James Jones, signaling the end of the Cavs’ winning streak in their lethargic 118-101 loss at the last-place Milwaukee Bucks.
The long and athletic Bucks shot 57 percent in the first half and pummeled the Cavs at the rim. Fourteen of their first 16 points in the second quarter were scored in the lane and they ended the night with 68 points in the paint, compared to just 32 for the Cavs.
Budding star Giannis Antetokounmpo matched his career high with 34 points on a night the Bucks dominated.
Smith, meanwhile, became distracted during an inbounds play in the first half. He wandered completely off the floor to hug Bucks reserve Jason Terry in the midst of the game while Tony Snell, whom Smith was supposed to be guarding, clapped his hands in disbelief and took the inbounds pass for an easy basket. Most of the Bucks’ baskets came rather easily.
Lue went back to his starters to begin the fourth quarter, but by then they trailed 92-74. LeBron James scored 22 points, but committed a season-high seven turnovers. James now has 16 turnovers in his past three games. Kyrie Irving scored 20 points, including 11 in the second quarter. Kevin Love scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds one day after he was named Player of the Week in the East. The Cavs committed 20 turnovers and trailed by as many as 22 in the fourth quarter.
Along with matching his career high in scoring, Antetokounmpo grabbed 12 rebounds and dominated the Cavs inside. Jabari Parker scored 18 points and Michael Beasley scored 17 off the bench for the Bucks.
By Francesco Scocchera