LeBron James played a rather listless first half. Through two quarters, LeBron looked flat; he only made two of his first six shots and was overall very un-LeBron like on both ends of the floor.
That changed at the end of the third quarter.
With the Cavs struggling to stay close to the Bucks, LeBron scored six straight points to tie the game at 73 all. Then, in the last play of the third quarter, LeBron cleared out the floor. When Milwaukee's defense refocused its attention on LeBron, he found an open in Iman Shumpert. Shumpert made a layup, giving the Cavs a 75-73 lead at the end of the third. It was also Cleveland's first lead since 11:41 left in the second quarter after being down by as many as 11 and a lead that would not be relinquished.
LeBron finished the game with a game-high 28 points- 21 of which came in the second half- 10 rebounds, six assists and five steals in Cleveland's 108-90 win. Michael Carter-Williams led the Bucks with 19 points.
The Cavs' second half dominance came without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on the floor. Neither Irving, who finished with 20 points after carrying the Cavs offense for most of the first half, or Love played in the fourth quarter. Coach David Blatt went with a smaller lineup that featured Shumpert, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith and Matthew Dellavedova. The lineup helped counteract some of the Cavs' struggles with the Bucks' length and size and the Cavs went from just barely leading to leading by double digits in a matter of minutes. The Cavs outscored the Bucks 33-17 in the fourth.
Smith, in particular, was key. He finished with 23 points on the day, 21 of which came on three-pointers, and at one point hit three straight threes to put the Cavaliers up by 15.
The Cavaliers next play on Wednesday on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. from the FedEx Forum in Memphis.