The proverbial hump felt all too real for the Milwaukee Bucks tonight. For every Bucks run, Toronto had an acrobatic answer ready as they staved off Milwaukee’s advances all night to win 105-99.
Giannis showed out with another gargantuan game (29 points, six rebounds, 11 assists) including 16 points in the fourth to keep the Bucks within striking distance. Besides his typical gravity-defying dunks, Jabari Parker was quiet with 14 points on 6-14 shooting. Tony Snell chipped in 16 points including 4-10 from deep. Toronto’s dynamic duo, DeMar DeRozan (26 points, seven rebounds) and Kyle Lowry (19 points, six assists) kept Toronto ahead for almost the entirety of the final three quarters.
Milwaukee found themselves within a few points of the lead many times over, but Toronto nailed jumpers with a full assortment of limbs in their mugs. Kyle Lowry hit a few jumpers from the 608 area code, and DeMar nailed isolation shots like it was open gym night. Toronto shot an impeccable 45% on 14 made 3-pointers, while Milwaukee almost matched them at 41% (12 made). Giannis shimmied, shot and bullied his way anywhere he wanted on the court late in the fourth, tallying half of the team’s points that quarter. He looked every bit the closer fans hope he becomes tonight. Toronto just happened to have two closers.
Early on, Toronto leaped out to an 11-3 lead with a bevy of 3-pointers from Kyle Lowry and Demarre Carroll. Milwaukee answered back with their favorite pastime: the dunk shot. A Parker flush on a fastbreak, Delly-oop to Plumlee and Giannis easy dunk in transition brought the Bucks back within three at the midway point of the quarter. Then, the talk of the town Greg Monroe actually entered the game! He looked good, putting a bucket up and whirling some whip-smart passes to shooters in the corners. Giannis left the game after committing his second personal foul, but not before slapping a 2/2/4 line on the scoreboard in eight minutes. Milwaukee kept it close the rest of the quarter, with Parker at a team-high seven points, but Toronto maintained a 27-24 advantage after nailing six three pointers.
Mirza Teletovic started off the second with a bang, hitting a three to tie the game at 27. Lucas Nogueira didn’t take kindly to the ball entering the basket and turned two consecutive Beasley and Brogdon lay-up attempts into dust as Toronto jumped in transition to get back ahead 32-27. Giannis re-entered around the 8:00 mark, and went on his own four-point spurt with one of his delightfully casual slam dunks. Toronto continued batting away the Bucks resurgent attempts with DeRozan or Patrick Patterson points, never letting Milwaukee regain the lead the rest of the quarter. Toronto went into the half leading 47-42 with nine points each from Lowry, Carroll and DeRozan. Giannis had 8/2/4, Parker scored seven and Tony Snell led the Bucks with 10 points including 2-5 on three.
Tony Snell kept up his hot start in the third quarter, hitting two threes to keep the Bucks close to Toronto after they pulled out to a nine point lead partway through the quarter. Jonas Valanciunas hurt the Bucks from all over the court throughout the third, eventually scoring eight with mid-rangers and lay-ins alike as Toronto led 63-53. Malcolm Brogdon answered back with a 3-pointer as the shot clock wound down, and Giannis capped the quick run with a transcontinental Euro-step and finger roll to get the Bucks within five. Soon after, DeRozan decided to start cooking inside the arc, pushing Toronto back to a 70-60 lead. Milwaukee wouldn’t go down lightly, and made a mini run of their own behind a whirling Giannis dunk and Brogdon three as the quarter finished with the Bucks trailing 73-67.
Milwaukee started with some smooth moves from Monroe and Parker to close within two, but Terrence Ross answered with a body-contorting three-pointer and runout off a steal to give Toronto the lead 78-71 before a Milwaukee timeout.
The Incredible Hulk Giannis re-entered the game around the 9:00 and immediately nailed two free throws and scored quickly in transition before Toronto counter-punched with two three-pointers and a layup to lead 86-78. A flurry of baskets by both squads gave way to a 94-89 faceoff, and Giannis politely asked to take matters into his own hands. He scored eight straight for the Bucks on every manner of sweeping, Kristi Yamaguchi slides into the lane, swift slams and turnaway bank shots to make it 99-97 with less than a minute to go before a Toronto timeout. Here’s a sampling:
The coronation was short-lived. DeMar DeRozan pooped on the Bucks parade immediately, splashing a ludicrous deep two over Snell and Giannis. Giannis turned the ball over on the next possession, Lowry laid the ball in and Giannis padded his stats with two more free throws. Ball game.
- Greg Monroe played 19 minutes in a basketball game for the Milwaukee Bucks.
- The Bucks played for 5:30 from the end of the first quarter to the middle of the second without one of Parker or Giannis on the court. Toronto only wound up winning that period 10-7, but the Bucks Thanksgiving leftovers lineup looked much more competent with Monroe out there.
- I’ve felt like Tony Snell was more involved in first halves this season, and the season splits bear that out. Snell is averaging 5.7 pts/game with 3.3 3-point attempts in first halves and only 2.8 pts and two 3-point attempts in second halves. He was more balanced tonight with 10 pts (five 3PA) in the first half and six points (five 3PA) in the second.
- Giannis had a double double after the third quarter tonight with 13 points and 10 assists.
- Rashad Vaughn returned to the Bucks tonight. He didn’t appear in the game. Here’s Kidd’s full quote courtesy of Eric:
Asked Kidd about Rashad Vaughn's time in the D-League. His response: pic.twitter.com/dXgk4QxHYk— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) November 25, 2016
- Fear the Deer night started off with stoic, serious looks to the camera to introduce the starters. It felt very much like a gritty reboot night, replete with dubstep and drama aplenty. I’m not the biggest fan of these designs. I think these threads will age the worst of all three new designs, and I sorta wish the whole aesthetic was a bit more whimsical and less dystopian. I’m all in for a popping out that beautiful blue, hell why not pull a Boise state and make the whole court blue.
- After his string bean beginnings, Giannis is sure made of hearty stock nowadays. On an early dunk, he took the ball down the court and made Pascal Siakim look like a gnat as he shoved him off en route to a dunk.
- Greg Monroe entered the game at six minute mark and, surprise, he looked really competent. He had several slick moves against Noguiera in the post, a smart pass out to Snell for a corner three and an even better wraparound pass underneath the basket to Beasley in the corner, who promptly missed the three. His court awareness is astounding in comparison to Henson/Plumlee.
- There was a great sweeping screen action in the second quarter with Giannis looping behind Teletovic at the free throw line as Snell cleared out from underneath the basket before Delly tossed up a floater that Giannis snagged from the air before gathering himself and dunking. Fun stuff.
- Giannis came out for the final two minutes of the first half, presumably to avoid picking up his third foul. Perhaps coincidentally, the last two minutes were not as fun.
- I know it’s his game, but man does DeMar DeRozan sure thump some tough shots. He had several nasty shots carom off the rim like a soft pumpkin throughout the night. (I typed that first part partway through the third quarter) DeMar then proceeded to hit ridiculous shots in the Bucks face over and over to close out the game. I’ll shut up now.