"More like Tragic Johnson sometimes," Gooden joked. "But I try. I try to get my teammates going."
Gooden hit double digits in all three categories midway through the third quarter.
"He was very good tonight," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "He rebounded the ball, passed the ball and shot the ball. He was active. I mean, he was active in the previous games, and tonight he was at a different level."
"I thought the first half, we didn't come ready to play," Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. "Didn't look very motivated. The second half I almost issued a challenge to the guys. 'If you don't want to play, let me know. If you do, raise your hand.' The second half was much better. If we had played that way the whole game it might have been a different outcome."
Salmons, who has struggled with consistency this season, shot 14 for 18.
"It's been frustrating all year as far as scoring the ball," Salmons said. "Finally, a game came together."
Although the game certainly didn't mean anything in terms of the playoffs, Gooden showed the Bucks what he can do when he's healthy.
Gooden, who missed a large chunk of the season because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot after signing with the Bucks as a free agent in the offseason, started at center after the team lost Andrew Bogut, who will have surgery on his sore right elbow on Tuesday.
Another of Milwaukee's options at center, Jon Brockman, also is out injured.
Gooden said missing so many games was difficult to deal with, given the expectations that came with his arrival in Milwaukee -- and even when he did return, he essentially was playing on one good leg.
"I think this gives us something to build off for the future, and see what I can bring to the game, to this team, to help them win," Gooden said.
Gooden completed the triple-double with 5:06 left in the third, corralling a miss for his 10th rebound. Gooden earlier got his 10th assist on a driving layup by Salmons with 6:48 left in the third, then hit the 10-point mark with a 19-foot jumper on the Bucks' next possession.
"That was amazing," Cleveland's Alonzo Gee said. "That was crazy. I didn't know he had 13 assists. That's crazy. It was a great night for him."
Gooden had eight points, eight rebounds and seven assists at halftime.
"In the past, those five assists stayed at five for the rest of the night," Gooden said. "And then, next thing I know, I have seven. It's like, 'Hey, this might be possible.'"
The Bucks were in control for most of the game, but a dunk by Ryan Hollins cut Milwaukee's lead to 99-95 with 1:25 left. Salmons answered with a turnaround, bank-in jumper.
The Bucks got off to a fast start thanks to Salmons, who shot 6 for 6 from the floor and scored 13 points as the Bucks took a 30-18 lead at the end of the first quarter.
"He got a lot of open shots," Skiles said. "And then once he got going, he started making some difficult ones as well."
Bogut will have arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to remove loose particles and scar tissue in his right elbow. The surgery will be performed by Dr. James Andrews. ... Skiles also said Brockman will miss the remainder of the season with a separated shoulder. ... Cleveland's Anthony Parker left the game with back spasms and did not return.