The Toronto Raptors visited Milwaukee and defeated the Bucks 97-90. It was the Raps’ second victory of the young season, and first against Milwaukee in 11 tries.
The Raps had this game locked up after 3 quarters, or so it seemed. A 5-point halftime advantage had expanded to 12, as the Raps owned the boards, and the Bucks were without a true point guard. However, it would appear nothing comes easy to Toronto, as O.J. Mayo topped off a Bucks comeback with a 3-ball to tie the game at 85 with half a quarter to play. The momentum seemed to be irretrievably lost, but Kris Middleton missed a driving layup to take the lead, Kyle Lowry made a lay-up from a great “find” by DeMar DeRozan, and the Raps never were headed.
Rudy Gay led our squad in scoring, but his points are very “expensive” (I’m not talking money, although that’s also true). He needed 14 shots and 10 free throws to accumulate 18 points. Rudy made 10 of 39 shots on this brief road trip, or barely 25%. We can’t win if our chief ball-stopper (not a title you want on your resume) can’t make the shots he seems to demand. Rudy did crash the boards, pulling down 15 rebounds, tops for either team. DeMar DeRozan didn’t light it up like he did against the Hawks in a losing cause, but did contribute 17 points. [20-second timeout: That was also DD's plus number, yet he was minus-10 in Atlanta, where he poured in 31 points. Terrence Ross didn't score in Atlanta, and was plus-14; had 6 points against the Bucks and was minus-3. Morale: Beware of extrapolating one-or two-game statistical anomalies into meaningful conclusions.]
Jonas Valanciunas once again was sitting in crunch time, as coach Dwane Casey choose to go with his small lineup. Landry Fields has been quietly effective off the bench, and getting a lot of JV’s playing time as a result. JV has found himself in foul difficulty, with 3 PFs every 16 minutes or so. Kyle Lowry was not under a lot of defensive pressure as the Bucks’ starting point guard, Brandon Knight, was out with an injury. Our man took advantage; no turnovers against 4 assists, with 14 points and 6 boards. By contrast, D.J. Augustin (who won’t be a Rap by the trade deadline, it says here) had 3 turnovers in 13+ minutes.
This game was won at the free-throw line (and a 60-38 rebounding margin didn’t hurt either). The Bucks actually had 6 more field goals than the winners, but the Raps outscored the home team 28-10 from the charity stripe.
While the Raps are 2-1, their wins have been against banged-up squads. Toronto will need to man up on Tuesday, when the Miami
LeBrons HEAT come to town. The Raps haven’t played anywhere close to their best basketball so far; perhaps they will against the defending NBA champions.