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LeBron comes up one assist short of triple-double

CLEVELAND (AP) -- LeBron James delivered what meant most to him when it mattered most to his team: a go-ahead basket in the final seconds.

Needing one rebound for a triple-double, James instead powered his way to a layup with 18.7 seconds left, and the Cleveland Cavaliers held off the Milwaukee Bucks' late comeback for an 89-86 victory Monday night.

"I knew I had to be aggressive," said James, who drove around Bobby Simmons at the foul line and easily scored for an 87-86 lead. "This was an important game. What's awesome is that we won the season series and have done a great job in our division."

Cleveland won three of four from the Bucks and is 9-2 in the Central Division.

Simmons scored 21 points to lead Milwaukee, which has lost five of eight, including four in a row on the road.

James added 12 assists and nine rebounds, but said he wasn't concerned about getting an eighth career triple-double and fourth of the season.

"If we had lost, I would've cared," he said. "We won. That's all that matters to me."

Milwaukee's Michael Redd scored 18 points, seven under his average, but came alive as the Bucks battled back from an 83-72 deficit with five minutes to play.

Redd missed 10 of his first 14 shots but scored five points in a 1:06 span late. He hit a driving layup, then less than a minute later nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key that got Milwaukee to 85-84 with 1:07 remaining.

"I just knew we had them then, but I was wrong," Redd said. "LeBron made a huge play."

Jamaal Magloire missed a free throw that would have made it 85-85, but Cleveland's Eric Snow threw the ball away at the other end 16 seconds later.

T.J. Ford hit an 11-footer to give Milwaukee an 86-85 lead with 30.4 seconds to play.

The Cavs then cleared out and let James go. He faked out Simmons and put the Cavs up 87-86.

Redd tried to counter but was called for an offensive foul as he ran into Anderson Varejao with 11.8 seconds left.

"Tonight was all Andy," James said. "He had nine points, five rebounds ... 25 charges. He was excellent, awesome."

Redd didn't agree with the call against him.

"Personally, I think it should have been nothing," Redd said. "At the end of the game, I think that [call] should be let go."

Varejao was proud of the play but felt fortunate it went his way.

"I had good position," said the Brazilian, whose hustling style has made him a fan favorite. "I put my body in front of him and took the charge. I did what the coach said. I got lucky."

James took the inbound pass from Snow and passed to Donyell Marshall breaking alone under the basket for a dunk with 9.7 left.

The Bucks "just left me alone," Marshall said. "The play was just designed to try and get the ball in, but when I saw the basket open I just went. LeBron found me."

Drew Gooden and Sasha Pavlovic each scored 15 points for Cleveland, which was without injured Larry Hughes, Ira Newble and Luke Jackson.

James scored seven points just before halftime to help Cleveland lead 44-37 at the break.

The first seven minutes resembled a ragged pickup game as the teams combined for six turnovers and 4-for-25 shooting, including 1-for-10 by the Cavaliers.

Cleveland didn't score for the first 5:16 until James made the second of two free throws. With 4:50 left in the first quarter, Milwaukee led 6-4.

Game notes
Cleveland signed G-F Stephen Graham to a 10-day contract Monday after learning that Jackson suffered a broken left wrist Saturday night against Philadelphia. ... Hughes is scheduled to visit doctors Tuesday to evaluate his recovery from surgery Jan. 6. It was originally thought he would be sidelined six to eight weeks. Cavs coach Mike Brown visited Newble, who has been hospitalized one week and said the forward "shows a lot of improvement," but admitted he did not know when he would be
available to play. ... James averaged 35.3 points, 9.0 assists and 8.5 rebounds against the Bucks this season. ... Milwaukee shot 39 percent from the field.