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Williams powers Bucks past Cavaliers to claim season series

Mar 23, 2008 - 4:22 AM By J.R. Radcliffe PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Positives have been hard to come by for the Milwaukee Bucks this season, but their play against the Cleveland Cavaliers has been one of the bright spots.

Mo Williams keyed a third-quarter spurt and finished with 29 points and 13 assists to lead the Bucks to a 108-98 victory over the Cavaliers on Saturday night at the Bradley Center.

With the win, Milwaukee claimed the season series, 3-1, with its only loss in four tries coming in double-overtime on December 17. This marks the first season-series victory over the Cavs since a 4-0 sweep during the 2002-03 season.

"I'm glad we don't play those guys 82 times, because Mo Williams would be the all-time greatest player ever if we did," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "He's an excellent player and against us, he has more than our number. I was at a loss for how to stop him. ... We tried everybody on him, and you have to give him credit.

"They've kicked our behind every time we played them, and just thank goodness we only play them four times."

One night after becoming the franchise's all-time leading scorer, LeBron James finished with 29 points, extending a streak of consecutive games with 21 points or more to 48 contests.

Despite James' performance, Cleveland still dropped its fifth straight road contest.

"I'm worried, because if we expect to be a very good playoff team, we've got to learn how to win on the road," Brown said. "It doesn't matter who we're playing. It's almost like we think we can show up and turn it on at the end of the game, instead of coming out and playing the right way."

After an early lead evaporated by halftime, the Bucks regained control in the third quarter, taking an 11-point lead into the fourth.

Williams scored seven points during a 9-0 run midway through the third that helped turn the tide after Cleveland took a brief one-point lead.

Williams shot an economical 9-of-11 in the game to pace Milwaukee, which snapped a six-game losing streak.

"We go on the road to Miami and Atlanta and we have to stay with the same focus," Williams said. "I think we were really focused tonight, and a big part of it is the Cleveland Cavaliers, but we have to come with the same focus against Miami or the Atlanta Hawks. They're in the playoff run, and we can be a (heck) of a spoiler."

Michael Redd hit his first three shots of the fourth quarter and helped the Bucks take an 84-70 lead with 10:17 left in the game.

"Tonight was great," Redd said. "We've played well against this team all year long; we've had their number this year. ... Cleveland's a great team, so to beat them says a lot."

Leading by 14 points with 4:30 left on the clock, Williams hit a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key, concluding a streak of seven straight Milwaukee points for the point guard.

"Once a guy gets into a zone like that, it's difficult," James said. "He's played pretty well against us all year, and he had another big night. When a guy gets it going, it doesn't matter what you do. He got to the free-throw line and was able to knock down his jumper."

Cleveland fought back with a 10-2 run, but Desmond Mason's pull-up jumper from the free-throw line restored the lead to 99-91, which the Bucks did not relinquish.

Milwaukee stormed out of the gate in the first quarter, holding Cleveland to 14 points and leading by as many as 15 with under a minute remaining in the period.

Andrew Bogut scored 10 points and was responsible for three of the five dunks in the 12-minute stretch as the Bucks shot 64 percent in the period.

"When we struggle on offense, our defense doesn't stay up; it goes down just like our offense," James said. "But we did a good job in the second quarter of defending and getting the lead and going into halftime tied up."

But after building the lead as high as 17 in the second quarter, the Cavs stormed back.

Cleveland executed a 15-4 run in the latter half of the second quarter. James' layup with two seconds left before halftime knotted the score, 46-46, heading into the locker rooms.

James led all scorers at halftime with 13 points, despite shooting just 5-of-13.

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