For some time, a Milwaukee win against Toronto seemed like an extinct proposition, but they rebounded from a groggy first quarter to defeat the Raptors tonight, 101-94.
Giannis looked springy again, bombarding his way to the rim and taking jumpers with more reckless abandon tonight to reach 21 points, ten rebounds and four assists. Khris Middleton’s confident game of 24 points and three rebounds was even more encouraging given this was his first time playing on a back-to-back since his return. Spencer Hawes even made an appearance, providing the BMO with a dazzling display en route to 16 points and eight rebounds. Malcolm Brogdon chipped in 17 points despite going 0-4 from deep.
For the Raptors, new acquisition Serge Ibaka was the main star with 19 points and five boards, with Cory Joseph adding 14 points, five rebounds and eight assists. All-Star DeMar DeRozan looked out of sorts all night, with Milwaukee’s defense forcing him to only 5-13 shooting for 11 points.
Milwaukee followed up a 12-point first quarter with a 41-point outburst in the second. From there, they continued to keep a fairly comfortable lead until halfway through the fourth, before ultimately winning down the stretch. Milwaukee’s 43.7% shooting percentage fell behind Toronto’s 46.7%, but the Bucks benefited from 12 extra shots due to a 9-3 offensive rebounding and 6-12 turnover advantage. Milwaukee capitalized on Toronto’s turnovers too, scoring 20 points off their 12 gaffes.
After Thon Maker threw a surprising backdoor pass to Khris Middleton to start, only his eighth assist of the season, Toronto went to work in the paint, bounding out to an 11-2 lead behind Valanciunas’ paint work. Milwaukee worked the ball around the arc, frequently finding good looks, only to have them rattle out. Meanwhile, Toronto found success battering the Bucks’ frontline, scoring 14 in the paint for the quarter and leading 19-12 after one. Milwaukee was lucky to only trail by seven given their tighter than tupperware basket, going only 4-22 (18.2%).
Milwaukee ended its dry spell in the second quarter, trailing by only one after a Jason Terry three and Hawes make, both of which were assisted by Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon continued his aggressive pursuit of points, tabbing a few tough finishes while Khris Middleton assaulted the Raptors in the post and on the perimeter. Milwaukee led 34-27 after a Spencer Hawes floater. Hawes made the most of his first significant stint for the Bucks, splashing two pick-and-pop threes as the quarter proceeded. Milwaukee ended the first half up 53-42, their slow-shooting first quarter receding from their memory.
Spencer Hawes was the surprising King in the North for the half, notching 14 points and five rebounds, with Khris Middleton at 12 points and Giannis at eight. For Toronto, Serge Ibaka led the Raptors with 12 points and Valanciunas close behind at 11. Milwaukee’s horrendous start flipped in the second, and they finished at 46.5% shooting for the half, with Toronto at 43.2%.
Khris Middleton came out gunning to start the second, scoring four straight. Giannis got in on the action after a quiet first half, and after a Middleton and-one in transition, the Bucks expanded their lead to 69-55. The Raptors made a brief run as they downsized with Serge Ibaka and Patrick Patterson at the five, but Giannis showed them what he thought of the downsizing with this move:
Milwaukee led 80-67 after three, following a spectacular weakside block by Giannis and another near rim obliteration ruined by Patrick Patterson, who nudged Giannis during his attempted alley-oop.
Toronto mounted a comeback against Milwaukee while Giannis sat on the Bucks bench to start the fourth. Despite the true Unicorn, Spencer Hawes, return to the game, Toronto’s guards sliced through the Bucks D like fresh brie, pouring in layups to get the game within 86-82. Giannis answered that with a twisted pretzel finish over Ibaka and a confident pull-up jumper before Brogdon got a lay-in to make it 92-82. Toronto hit a three in response, but a Tony Snell corner three iced it and Milwaukee won 101-94.
- Giannis passed up a wide open three-pointer in the first quarter without a Raptor in sight. Instead of flinging away, he hesitated, dribbled haphazardly into the lane and dished it out to the perimeter where nothing happened. Giannis had only taken three three-point attempts in his previous four games coming into tonight and he didn’t take one tonight. I’d be fine if he went back to slinging at least two a game, even if they’re ill-advised pull-ups.
- Marques Johnson kept calling Jonas Valanciunas “Choo-Choo.”
- Milwaukee’s horrid first quarter wasn’t as much an issue of poor offense but rather poor shot making. The Bucks repeatedly found good looks from outside, and their struggles were exemplified when Greg Monroe’s layup simply sat on the rim before casually rolling off.
- Spencer Hawes had a very effective stint for Milwaukee in his first non-garbage time sequence in the second quarter. He had two pick-and-pop threes, a shot-fake for a Delly style floater and presented decent resistance at the rim for the Bucks’ backline en route to 14 points in 12 minutes. ‘Twas a weirdly magical portion with Hawes carpet-bombing the lid that ailed the Bucks in the first quarter. I mean, look at this:
- Tonight was Pride Night at the BMO. That in itself is an incredibly cool thing to do, but the rainbow colored Bucks state logo shirts they had looked fantastic. Props to the organization for the whole thing.
- The Bucks fared okay against the Raptors’ small lineups with Serge Ibaka at the five. Ibaka got both Hawes and Monroe on pops out to the three-point line, nailing jumpers as they feebly tried to contest. However, they didn’t hemorrhage points and Ibaka’s limited off-the-dribble game meant they weren’t in danger of being embarrassed on a shot fake. Monroe had several solid contains on drives to the hoop by Patterson as well.
- MVP chants broke out for Giannis tonight, but for some reason I didn’t hear any for tonight’s real MVP, Spencer Hawes. A troubling omission to be sure.
- There’s no reason Jason Terry should be playing the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. Even on an off night for Tony Snell, he should be in there earlier than that.
- Giannis sat for too long on the bench to start the fourth quarter too. Milwaukee found success in the second quarter with Giannis on the bench and Hawes out there, but they stuck with it too long in the fourth and and allowed Toronto to get within six. He finally checked in around the six and a half minute mark.
- Once he entered, Giannis showed some star power mettle. With Toronto within four, he went right at Ibaka for a contorted finish, then splashed a pull-up jumper on the next possession early in the shot clock. That’s the type of shot stars take, even if they don’t always make it.
- For the second night in a row, Greg Monroe got into a verbal tiff with an opponent late in the game. Tonight, he took umbrage with Serge Ibaka.