The Toronto Raptors played one of their better offensive games of the season tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks, scoring 119 points on 46% shooting from the floor. Unfortunately the Bucks played even better offense, shooting 53.5%, and came away with the 130-122 victory.
The game was nothing like the last time these two teams met, when the Raptors erased a 21-point deficit in the proverbial blink of an eye (OK, about four minutes) to send the game to OT. This one was close most of the night, with neither team pulling away or stringing together consistent stops. Ultimately it was three-point shooting (an impressive 49% for Milwaukee) and free throw shooting (an embarrassing 63% for the Raptors) that made the difference.
Jrue Holiday led the Bucks with 37 points on 16-for-26 shooting, along with six rebounds and seven assists. Grayson Allen and Brook Lopez added 25 and 19, respectively.
Fred VanVleet continues to shake off his slump, at least offensively, posting his second straight 30-plus-point game; he finished with 39 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Gary Trent added 28, and Pascal Siakam chipped in 23 with nine rebounds.
The game got feisty late in the fourth; with the Bucks leading 113-110, Lopez and Trent got tied up chasing a rebound, and Lopez bizarrely removed Trent’s headband and tossed it aside. That brought O.G. Anunoby into the fray, followed by Joe Ingles and Bobby Portis, and then… Jamaal Magloire? Lopez was acting like a madman, and — after a lengthy video review — justly got tossed; Anunoby and Magloire also got tech’ed up. It did lead to a Bill Kennedy monologue for eternity:
It also led to an opening in the paint for the Raptors; VanVleet used the extra space vacated by Lopez to get to the hoop on consecutive possessions, but the Raptors just couldn’t stop Milwaukee from downtown. Pat Connaughton and Allen threes, sandwiched around a Holiday jumper, gave the Bucks a five-point lead with 3:30 to go; another Holiday there with 2:15 on the clock gave the Bucks a 126-119 lead and the game was over.
Oddly enough, despite playing an OT game just last night, Nick Nurse stuck to a 8-man rotation and didn’t give his starters much of a break. Barnes, Siakam, Trent and VanVleet played 45, 46, 42 and 45 minutes respectively, last night; tonight, they played 37, 40, 43 and 37. It’s no wonder they faded in the second half. Christian Koloko got his second straight DNP-CD, despite a string of solid games recently; Thad Young hasn’t played in ages, Khem Birch is glued to the pine, and Joe Wieskamp — he of the freshly minted second 10-day contract — can’t sniff the floor. On the plus side, Precious Achiuwa continues to round into form; he played 26 minutes and although he was only 4-for-10 from the field, eh played mostly in control and pulled down 7 rebounds.
The Bucks jumped out to an early 18-10 lead, but the Raptors came to life after the ensuing timeout, getting themselves back to within four, 27-23, on a VanVleet jumper.
The first quarter was then momentarily interrupted when the lights flickered, and Nick Nurse jokingly called for the Bucks to get t’ed up. But when the game resumed, it was the Bucks who proceeded to shoot the lights out.
The Raptors closed the gap to two, 30-28, on a Juancho Hernangomez dunk, but then allowed Joe Ingles to walk into two uncontested threes, and Jrue Holiday added another, giving the Bucks a 39-28 lead. One more from George Hill have the Bucks their largest lead, 44-31, before a VanVleet three cut it to 10 after 1.
All told the Bucks finished the first quarter shooting 8-of-10 from downtown, and 67% from the floor overall.
The Raptors entered the second with a weird transitional unit (Trent, Barnes, Anunoby, Achiuwa, and Boucher), but the group brought an energy that was lacking in the first quarter, forcing two turnovers and using an 11-4 run over 2:30 to cut the lead to 3, 48-45. A couple of plays later, a Trent three gave the Raptors the lead, 52-51.
Achiuwa was feeling himself in the frame, dropping two threes (one of them a step-back!) and blocking a Connaughton shot at the rim. His second three broke a 55-55 tie, and the Raptors ran off an 11-3 run (which included threes from VanVleet and Trent) to lead 66-58. VanVleet and Holiday traded layups before the half and the Raps took a 74-67 lead into halftime.
VanVleet scored 22 in the first half on 9-of-14 shooting, including a gorgeous stop-on-a-dime pull-up over Jordan Nwora, and a desperation, shot-clock-beating three over a looming Brook Lopez. O.G. Anunoby, on the other hand, had a rough first half, missing five of his six shots, including a fast break layup that led to a Jrue Holiday dunk the other way.
The Bucks, naturally, didn’t go quietly, opening the third on a 15-4 run. Grayson Allen scored 8 in the run, including three free throws after a dubious foul call on VanVleet; Lopez added five, including the three that gave Milwaukee the lead back, 82-80. It definitely felt like Nick Nurse waited too long to call a timeout as the Bucks swung momentum their way; after the break, Lopez drained two more triples as the Bucks pushed their lead to 88-83.
For whatever reason — their extremely punchable faces? — Lopez and Allen are the two guys you least want to beat you. Jrue Holiday? Sure. George Hill, Joe Ingles, Pat Connaughton, even Bobby Portis… I can handle it. Brook Lopez draining threes and hitting fadeaways from 14 feet? Allen hitting acrobatic layups and transition threes? No thank you! Unfortunately that’s exactly what we got as the Raptors just couldn’t keep the Bucks from getting whatever they wanted. Allen and Lopez combined for 29 of the Bucks’ 33 in the frame (!) as Milwaukee built an 11-point lead late in the quarter. Only a late VanVleet three kept the lead to single digits, 105-97, heading into the fourth.
The Raptors opened the fourth trying to get something going to the hoop, but Anunoby and Achiuwa both missed bunnies, and although Siakam got himself to the line, he missed two out of four free throws in the first three minutes. Thankfully a Barnes OReb kept the second miss alive, and his baby hook cut the lead to six; a Trent layup a minute later made it 109-105 for the Bucks. All that inside work set up an outside look for Trent, who drained a triple on the Raptors’ next possession to cut the lead to 1. That led into the Trent-Lopez contretemps; unfortunately, the Raptors couldn’t keep the pressure on after the brouhaha cleared.
The Raptors continue their busy week on Thursday when they travel to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves.