Raptors 106 Bucks 100
TORONTO — Three nights after a horrible outing in Game 1, Kyle Lowry more than made up for it in Game 2.
Toronto’s three-time all-star scored 22 points, including the game-clinching shot with nine seconds to play as the Raptors defeated the Bucks 106-100 on Tuesday, sending the best-of-seven playoff series to Milwaukee tied at one win apiece.
DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points, while Serge Ibaka, playing on a sprained left ankle, added 16 points and seven rebounds. Jonas Valanciunas added 10 points and 10 boards, and Cory Joseph chipped in with 11 points.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 24 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists.
The third-seeded Raptors dropped an ugly 97-83 loss to sixth-seeded Milwaukee in Game 1, falling to 1-11 in playoff series openers, and the talk around practice in the days since had been about playing with more ferocity.
Lowry, who scored just four points in Game 1, set a more aggressive pace from the outset. The Raptors shot better, moved the ball better, and led by as many as 13 points, but the troublesome Bucks just kept coming back, and the Toronto went into the fourth quarter in front of a nervous Air Canada Centre crowd of 20,077 with an 84-83 lead.
After thoroughly falling apart in the fourth quarter of Game 1, they were better down the stretch of Game 2, and when P.J. Tucker drilled a three-pointer with 9:12 left to play, it put Toronto up by 12 points.
Milwaukee still had plenty of life, however, and when Antetokounmpo scored on an alley-oop layup from Matthew Dellavedova with 2:46 to play, the Bucks pulled to within a point.
Antetokounmpo scored on a three-pointer — and flexed his biceps on his way back down the court — to tie the game with two minutes left. DeRozan replied with a basket. And then, with the crowd on its collective feet, the Raptors played solid defence, before Lowry connected to guarantee Toronto the victory.
The Raptors had history on their side, winning Game 2s against Brooklyn in 2014, and then Indiana and Miami last season. They also only lost back-to-back games once since the NBA all-star break.
The Raptors shot 48 per cent on the night, while holding the Bucks to 41 per cent. They also shot far better from three-point range in Game 2 — their 14 threes was a franchise playoff record.
A day after DeRozan compared the Raptors’ notoriously slow starts to an old Buick Regal, Toronto played with greater intensity from the tipoff, sprinting out to an early five-point lead. A floating jump shot by DeRozan to end the first quarter sent the Raptors into the second with a 28-25 lead.
Their momentum continued into the second quarter, and a running jumper from P.J. Tucker capped a 12-2 Raptors run and gave Toronto a nine-point lead. They couldn’t shake the pesky Bucks though and Spencer Hawes scored on a tip-in at the buzzer — an ugly possession that saw Milwaukee grab four offensive rebounds — and the Raptors’ lead was down to 55-52 at halftime.
The Raptors opened the third quarter with an 18-3 run capped by a Lowry jumper that gave them a 13-point lead. But the Bucks answered with a 15-4 run.
Game 3 is Thursday, and Game 4 on Saturday.