CLEVELAND (AP) — Brandon Knight scored 26 points Wednesday night and the Milwaukee Bucks led most of the way in a 96-80 win over the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers, who played without LeBron James for the second straight game.
James was sidelined because of a sore left knee, an injury that also forced him to miss Tuesday’s game against Atlanta. Kevin Love was out with back spasms, and the Cavaliers went on to their fourth loss in five games.
O.J. Mayo scored 15 points for the Bucks (17-16), and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Kyrie Irving scored 25 points for Cleveland, and Tristan Thompson had 10 points and 13 rebounds. The Cavaliers scored seven points in the third quarter, a season low.
Milwaukee went ahead for good late in the first quarter and built a 17-point lead in the first half. Cleveland pulled within one late in the second quarter, but the Bucks led by five at the break and opened the third with a 13-2 run.
Milwaukee’s lead reached 22 points in the fourth quarter. The Bucks, who won in overtime at Charlotte on Monday, improved to 7-7 on the road.
Knight was 11 of 19 from the field, including four 3-pointers, and had six assists. Zaza Pachulia and Khris Middleton each had nine points and eight rebounds.
James said before the game the knee has bothered him most of the season, and he didn’t know if he would play Friday in Charlotte. He missed the Dec. 11 game against Oklahoma City and aggravated the knee when he jumped over a row of seats chasing a loose ball on Christmas at Miami.
James ranks second in the NBA with 25.2 points per game, and Love averages 16.7 points and 10.1 rebounds.
The Cavaliers (18-14) have been hit by a rash of injuries. Forward Shawn Marion missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle. Center Anderson Varejao will miss the rest of the season after tearing his left Achilles tendon last week.
The Cavaliers lost to the Heat on Christmas Day as James returned to Miami for the first time since going back to Cleveland in July. The Cavaliers won in Orlando on Friday, but were blown at home by Detroit on Sunday before falling to the Hawks on Tuesday when they also played short-handed.
Bucks: C Larry Sanders (illness), who missed his fourth straight game, will be examined Thursday in Milwaukee. … F Ersan Ilyasova (concussion) also missed his fourth straight game. … G Jerryd Bayless (sore left knee) also didn’t play.
Cavaliers: C Brendan Haywood, who appeared in seven of the first 31 games, started for the first time this season. … Coach David Blatt made liberal use of his bench. All 11 players saw action and Irving, who played 43 minutes Tuesday, was given a rest in the first quarter.
Bucks: Host Indiana on Friday.
Cavaliers: At Charlotte on Friday.
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