Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey clearly believed that getting a win over the sad sack Milwaukee Bucks did not require the services of All-Star DeMar DeRozan. Our excellent shooting guard was given the night off, although he did dress. The coach’s faith in the rest of his charges was borne out as the Raps started the game hot, took a hefty lead in the second quarter, then had enough left to coast home for the victory.
Greivis Vasquez started in DD’s place, and was unstoppable from distance early. Vasquez nailed his first 5 shots from beyond the arc on his way to a team-leading 25-point night. His 7 assists also was tops. With 3-balls pouring in from all over, including a pair from Amir Johnson, the Raps’ lead stretched to 22 midway through Q2. The shorthanded Bucks didn’t fold, and Toronto’s shooting suddenly cratered. The handsome margin was down to 13 at halftime.
Kyle Lowry made a strong contribution all game. When the Bucks looked like they were on the verge of completing the comeback in Q4, Kyle drove to the hoop several times for layups. He ended with 24 points. The Raps were expected to own the boards, and did, as two big men enjoyed double-double nights. Jonas Valanciunas’ 14 points and 13 rebounds was aided by hitting all 6 free throws he tried. Tyler Hansbrough’s run of disappointing efforts ended with 12 points and 11 rebounds. One memorable bucket occurred after he received a nifty behind-the-back pass from the always-surprising Amir. Solid passing was in evidence all night. The Raps had 25 assists, including 5 from the solid Nando De Colo, who has pushed aside the pretenders to earn regular minutes.
Milwaukee received solid games from Jeff Adrien and top scorer Ramon Sessions, but surrendered 11 steals. With a short bench, they get credit for “winning” Q4 when by rights they should have been cooked. The Bucks had best hope for luck in the Draft Lottery, and good health next season, as they are a lot more hole than donut.
The Raps needed a favour from the Orlando Magic, but didn’t get one. Chicago defeated Orlando, so Toronto’s final game, against the Knicks in New York on Wednesday night, takes on significance. The Raps need a win, or a Chicago loss to Charlotte, to nail down the #3 seed. While coach Casey would prefer to take a skeleton staff to the Big Apple, he can’t now. DeMar’s brief vacation is over, and the Raps don’t have much time to enjoy setting a new franchise record with their 48th win. The playoffs are around the corner.
Tags: Toronto Raptors