It was another game without Kyle Lowry or Amir Johnson on the court; nonetheless the Raps proved again that other players could step up to the plate. Overall, this game was way too close, but the Dinos came out with some strong defence in the second half and pulled out a win, 102 to 98.
Tonight, Toronto went head to head with the Milwaukee Bucks and both team played a close game throughout all four quarters. In the first, Greivis Vasquez was playing with so much confidence, and had a hot hand throughout the game. His teammates spotted it early, and took advantage of it. As well, Jonas Valanciunas was grabbing a lot of boards, and DeMar DeRozan nimbly used his teammates' screens to get open looks, which gave the Raps a 28 to 22 lead over the Bucks after a quarter.
Beginning the second quarter, Milwaukee was playing loose, and had a great start. The Bucks had back-to-back baskets and caused Toronto to turnover the ball multiple times. These turnovers just led to terrible play on the defensive side of the court, and Toronto was late most times on rotations. Valanciunas kicked up the speed and constantly ran the floor to get the easy passes, and finish with easy buckets. But, it wasn't enough, the Raps turned the ball over 6 times, which led to Milwaukee pulling away and taking a lead of 56-47 going into the halftime break.
The tempo changed in the second half. Defence picked up and Toronto went on a 13-4 run, which tied the game up at 60. Instead of forcing the play, the Raptors took an extra pass and made sure to find the open player.
Valanciunas played big in the paint which maybe was a result of his locker room cheat sheet. During the fourth, Derozan came out stronger and more aggressive as well and it showed down the stretch. He and Vasquez (who finished with a season-high 26 points) repeatedly gave the Bucks issues on D, and their scoring, as well as another solid game from Valanciunas was just enough.
It wasn’t a pretty finish, but the Raptors took the win with a final score of 102-98.
Hopefully John Salmons gets his game turned around before the playoffs.
Brandon Knight had this ridiculous dunk for the Bucks:
Kudos to the Raptors for resting Lowry and Johnson again. They've gotta try and keep this team healthy, but continue to compete every night with teams like Chicago (who won again tonight) breathing down their necks.
Sarah’s Eye: Lowry looked extremely attractive in his suit tonight.