Milwaukee put themselves in good position to win the game, mostly in part to a resurgence in the final quarter from Ersan Ilyasova and reserve guard O.J. Mayo. Ilyasova (14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, seven boards) managed to score in double-digits for the first time since November 29 against the Houston Rockets, contributing nine of his 14 in the fourth. It's his second game back after suffering a nasal fracture last month.
"This was his second game back," coach Jason Kidd said after the game, "and for him to get back in the saddle doing a lot of different things, giving us second opportunities, going to the free-throw line ... he gave us help,"
"I wouldn't say I'm not comfortable. It's hard to play with a mask," Ilyasova said, "but I have to go through it."
Mayo added 13 (4-of-8 from the field) and also dished out four assists. The duo of Ilyasova and Mayo scored the first 14 points for the Bucks in the fourth quarter to help them charge back.
Milwaukee closed the gap to just one with under a minute to go in the game, but couldn't capitalize and build off their loud BMO Harris Bradley Center momentum. Giannis Antetokounmpo threw a pass to Khris Middleton underneath the glass to cut Toronto's lead to the just one, but the Bucks simply couldn't get the stops needed to complete the comeback.
Right after the layup from Middleton, the Bucks nearly forced a turnover with an aggressive trap near midcourt, but the Raptors passed out of it and made the Bucks pay with a difficult Terrence Ross jump shot from the right baseline, restoring the Raptors' lead to three with 26.4 remaining.
Kidd signaled for a timeout, and right after, Brandon Knight charged down the lane and split defenders for a layup, making it a one-point ball game once again. Ross (who else) then sprung free off the inbound and easily threw home a dunk to put the game out of the Bucks' reach again -- a critical defensive breakdown at any time, let alone in the final minute of a close game.
Knight spotted up for a three on the left side coming out of another quick timeout, but the wide open shot fell short.
"It was a wide open shot, that's all you can ask for. As a team, we had a great look and had one of our best shooters shooting that ball." Kidd said. "Unfortunately, it just didn't go in."
The Bucks intentionally fouled Kyle Lowry, and after two missed free throws, had a chance to keep the game alive once more. Mayo sprinted down court after Lowry missed the second, but lost the ball while trying to draw a foul as time expired. Milwaukee burned their last timeout after the Ross dunk and their last chance to tie the game another time fell short due to time expiring. Toronto has now won six consecutive games against the Bucks dating back to April 6, 2013.
Knight led the team with 20 points, but shot the ball poorly, going 7-of-21 from the field and committing five turnovers. The Bucks were manhandled in the paint, as Toronto grabbed 20 offensive rebounds and scored 21 second chance points.
Milwaukee will face Utah on Thursday for their second of three games at home this week.