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 Wednesday night's game he is considering shutting Irving down for the final few weeks of the season.
Antawn Jamison scored 17 points for Cleveland.
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 fastbreak 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 three-pointer.
Ellis took over from there, knocking down six more jumpers.
In other games *
At Washington, Danny Granger scored 20 points, and the Indiana Pacers won their third straight, shooting a season-high 58 percent in a 109-96 victory over the Wizards.
* At Boston, Tim Duncan had 10 points and 16 rebounds and the San Antonio Spurs recovered after blowing a 17-point, first-half lead to beat the Celtics, 87-86, for their ninth consecutive victory.
* At Atlanta, Josh Smith scored 24 points, Jeff Teague added 17 and the Hawks beat the Charlotte Bobcats, 120-93.
* At Minneapolis, David Lee had 31 points and eight rebounds, and the Golden State Warriors rallied from a 20-point deficit to top the Minnesota Timberwolves, 97-94.
* At New Orleans, Eric Gordon scored 15 points in his first action in 3 months, capping the performance with two free throws in the final seconds to lift the Hornets to a 94-92 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
* At Miami, LeBron James had 34 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Heat to a 98-93 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, which got 30 points from Kevin Durant.
* At Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki scored 23 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead the Mavericks over the Memphis Grizzlies, 95-85.
* At Salt Lake City, Steve Nash's running jumper with a second left lifted Phoenix over the Jazz, 107-105.
* At Portland, La Marcus Aldridge had 24 points and nine rebounds as the Trail Blazers defeated New Jersey, 101-88.
Commissioner David Stern said the NBA is close to finalizing a deal to keep the Hornets in New Orleans with a very favorable lease, important capital improvements, intense tax benefits and a new television deal.