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MILWAUKEE — Monta Ellis scored 16 of his 30 points in the final 5 minutes, helping the Milwaukee Bucks fend off a Cleveland team missing Kyrie Irving for a 107-98 victory Wednesday night.
Brandon Jennings scored 19 points, and Ersan Ilyasova added 18 for Milwaukee. The Bucks have won four of their past five to close within a game of New York for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks were off Wednesday.
Anthony Parker had a season-high 27 points for the Cavaliers, who have lost nine straight and 12 of 13.
Cleveland looked lost at times without Irving, who reinjured his sprained right shoulder Tuesday night in a blowout loss to San Antonio. Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said before the game that he has considered shutting Irving down for the final few weeks of the season.
Antawn Jamison scored 17 points for Cleveland on 6-of-17 shooting.
It was the first of five straight home games for the Bucks — and that isn’t necessarily a good thing, given the fact that the Bucks are 13-12 at home, even after starting the season 7-2.
Wednesday night’s win might not have happened without the late scoring surge by Ellis, who had Milwaukee’s last eight baskets beginning at the 4:30 mark.
Ellis and Jennings provided an early highlight midway through the third quarter, when Ellis came up with a steal, charged out on a fast break and flipped the ball up for an alley-oop slam by Jennings. Milwaukee led 79-68 going into the fourth.
Alonzo Gee scored on a putback to cut the lead to nine early in the fourth, but Milwaukee answered with an 8-0 run that included a pair of layups by Jennings. Cleveland answered with a 7-0 run and trailed by 10 with 6:20 left, and cut the lead to six at 93-87 on Jamison’s 3-pointer.
Ellis answered with a driving layup — the second basket in his late scoring spurt — and took over from there, knocking down six more jumpers to end the game.
Milwaukee appeared to have the game under control early on.
With the Bucks already leading by 11 early in the second quarter, backup forward Larry Sanders played a critical role in an 8-0 run. Sanders drove for a layup, then blocked Omri Casspi’s shot on the other end, allowing the Bucks to get out on a fast break. Beno Udrih hit a pull-up jumper.
Sanders then came up with another block, this time on Lester Hudson, leading to a layup by Mike Dunleavy.
After another empty possession by the Cavaliers, Dunleavy scored again, giving Milwaukee a 37-18 lead with 8:38 left before halftime.
The Bucks led 53-39 at the half — the 11th time they’ve scored 50-plus points in the first half in their last 12 games.
Notes: Bucks center Drew Gooden sat out because of back soreness. Gooden has had two career triple-doubles, both against Cleveland. Ekpe Udoh started in Gooden’s place. ... Milwaukee also was without Carlos Delfino because of a right groin injury.