In recent weeks the Cleveland Cavaliers have been a considerably improved team, one that is likely to make the playoffs.
The powerful Milwaukee Bucks, in no uncertain terms, let the Cavaliers know that they are not yet ready for prime time.
The Bucks jumped off to a big early lead Wednesday night at Milwaukee and coasted to a 128-93 victory, their fifth win in a row.
The Cavaliers had won seven out of eight. The only loss came against the Lakers at the end of a six-game trip after the Cavaliers had won the first five.
The Bucks (46-19) lead the Central Division by 10 games and have won 12 of their last 14 games.
Although the Bucks played without Sidney Moncrief, who rested a sore knee, the Cavaliers never made a game out of it. The Bucks led, 32-28, after one quarter, and 64-48 at halftime with the help of 13 second-quarter points by Kevin Grevey. The biggest lead was 85-63 late in the third quarter.
Terry Cummings, who usually leads the Bucks in scoring, had 26 points, and Ricky Pierce, starting in place of Moncrief at guard, had 22.
"Ricky Pierce has been doing a good job for us all season," Coach Don Nelson said. "At the start of the season when we moved Paul Pressey up front, we were a little concerned about depth at guard. The way Craig Hodges and Pierce have played, we no longer have that worry."
Phil Hubbard and World B. Free each scored 20 points for the Cavaliers, who are a game ahead of Atlanta in the fight for the last playoff spot in the East.
Boston 123, Phoenix 106--Larry Bird cooled off to a 31-point game at Boston, in his follow to Tuesday night's club-record 60 points at New Orleans.
By that time Bird had assured the world champions of their 52nd victory of the season.
The Suns, again without injured star forward Larry Nance, were led by Charles Jones, who came off the bench to make six shots in a row and score 19 points.
New Jersey 114, Washington 109--Micheal Ray Richardson scored 27 points and Buck Williams had 16 points and a season-high 22 rebounds at East Rutherford, N.J., and the Nets ended a three-game losing streak.
The Bullets and Nets are tied for third place in the Atlantic Division. Both are 33-33.
Dallas 118, Kansas City 100--Mark Aguirre scored 32 points at Dallas as the Mavericks won their third in a row and continued their drive toward the home-court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.
The four teams with the best records during the regular season in each conference will get the home-court edge. The Mavericks are a comfortable fourth in the Western Conference, although in third place in the Midwest Division.