On the second night of a back-to-back, the Toronto Raptors did not disappoint in their matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Raptors were without both DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas in this contest but still came away with a dominant 107-89 road victory. With the win the Raptors improve their record away from the Air Canada Centre to 19-13. Toronto’s victory over Milwaukee marks a season sweep series against the Bucks (4-0). The Raptors also improve their streak to 30 straight wins when holding their opponent under 100 points. Norman Powell and Bismack Biyombo started in place of DeRozan and JV.
Kyle Lowry led all scorers with 25 points and 11 assists. Lowry did most of his damage in the first half willing the Raptors back to life after a sluggish first quarter. He had a double-double through three quarters and sat out for the fourth quarter. Toronto’s next game is Thursday when they take the road again to take on Paul George and the Indiana Pacers.
Cage’s Report Card:
In the absence of DeRozan the Raptors had no choice but to go to their other All-Star in Kyle Lowry. Lowry had no chill scoring 20 of his 25 points in the first half, showing just how dominant he was against the Bucks tonight. In the second half, the Raptors displayed exactly how team basketball should be played. Toronto racked up 27 assists and only 9 turnovers on 39 made field goals. The Bucks are one of the better teams in the league when it comes to forcing their opponent to turn over the ball, however Toronto was solid in their offensive approach once they got out of the first quarter. This was definitely a complete team effort for Toronto as they had 6 players finish in double figures.
The defence for the Raptors looked rejuvenated tonight. This was large in part due to the insertion of Powell and Biyombo into the starting lineup. Powell energized the Raptors on the perimeter fighting for loose balls and battling with Giannis Antetokounmpo on switches. Biyombo was a force of his own swatting away countless attempts at the rim, therefore preventing the Bucks from executing on their perennial paint attack.
The stat sheet only credits Biyombo with 2 blocks, however I counted at least three during the third quarter alone – with two being on the same possession. The Raptors defence still isn’t where it needs to be as they weren’t facing elite competition, however holding their opponent to 23% shooting in the 3rd quarter after allowing them to shoot 50% in the first half is definitely a step in the right direction
Toronto held their own on the glass against the Bucks wining the battle of the boards 48-37. Biyombo had 13 rebounds for the Raptors leading all players, whlle the Greek Freak pulled in 12 of his own – falling just one assist shy form a triple-double. The Raps had a gang rebound mentality tonight as everyone needed to step it up. Patrick Patterson came through with a huge putback jam which essentially stole the soul of the Bucks and cemented the win for the Raptors.
Game Ball: Norman Powell
Tonight’s game ball could’ve very well gone to Lowry or Biyombo, however a career high in points will usually get you a game ball from time to time. Powell finished with 17 points, looking confident on both ends of the court. Powell forced the issue on the defensive end which led to the Raptors pushing it in transition. He brought a never back down mentality and did exactly what Terrence Ross should’ve done when given the opportunity to prove himself. Great game Norman!