Kyle Lowry scored 22 points, including the clinching basket with less than 10 seconds to play, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 106-100 on Tuesday night, evening their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series at 1-1.
"I've been in the trenches with him before and he's always bounced back", Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "He's a competitor. He's a fighter and I just knew he wouldn't be satisfied the way he played the first game". Antetokounmpo struggled a bit in terms of scoring, needing 24 shots to post a game-high 24 points, but he also contributed 15 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks. He wreaked havoc on Toronto's defense by driving into the lane over and over, then either dunking the ball from ridiculous angles or finding the open shooter.
DeRozan made a pull-up jumper to give Toronto a two-point lead with 1:43 left. "They are a long team, we had to do a better job of spacing, creating space with screens, zip passes, you can't just throw as my college coach used to say, "dying quail passes" And I thought we did a better job with on-time, on-target passes". "I think we got their attention". I knew there was five seconds on the shot clock. "It would have been easy to let go of the rope".
"It's big. him doing the things he was able to do tonight for us, especially defensively", DeRozan said of Ibaka.
DeMar DeRozan went 9 for 18 and wound up with 23 points. Letting the Bucks feel empowered by their defensive prowess would only build on the momentum they have after a statement Game 1.
Some of them had multiple up close looks as they basically forced the ball out of the Milwaukee Bucks' star's hands as often as humanly possible and were still life and death to contain Milwaukee's greatest talent.
The same player who averaged 21.2 points-per-game in the regular season managed to average just 13.5 ppg during that nine-game stretch, before busting out of his slump with 33 points in Game 3 of the second round against Miami. However, he remained in the action and was arguably the Raptors' best player, finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
DeRozan broke the tie with a jumper and, after missed 3-pointers by Malcolm Brogdon and Matthew Dellavedova, Tucker missed a pair of free throws.
In 2016, Lowry scored fewer than 20 points in all but one of the first nine playoff games.
Middleton hit a turnaround, fade-away jumper to cut the lead to two points with 3:24 to play in the quarter.
Toronto led 55-52 at the intermission. I still have the Raptors winning this series in six or seven games but I think the Bucks will reclaim the lead with a narrow win in front of a packed house in Game 3.
Bucks: Antetokounmpo missed six of his first eight field goal attempts. Cory Joseph makes 26-foot three point jumper with Patrick Patterson assists.