TORONTO — After many failed attempts to defeat the NBA’s best home team, the taste of victory was sweet for Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“We haven’t beaten them in a while, so the win feels a lot better, to be honest with you,” said Antetokounmpo.
The Greek superstar scored a team-high 26 points and added 12 rebounds to help his team hang on to defeat the Toronto Raptors 122-119 in overtime on Friday.
Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe would each collect 21 points for the Bucks (33-25) who picked up their first and only win against Toronto this season.
Heading into the game, Toronto had defeated Milwaukee in 15 of the previous 17 contests dating back to the 2013-14 season.
DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors (41-17) with a game-high 33 points. Toronto dropped just their fifth home game this season and their first since a Jan. 26 loss to Utah. The Raptors also had their season-high win streak halted at seven games.
Toronto led the Bucks 29-23 after the opening quarter with Serge Ibaka leading the way with nine points. He’d finish the night with 18 points.
The Bucks stormed back in the second quarter by making all six of their three-point attempts. DeRozan earned a technical foul after arguing a foul he received on Middleton’s three-point attempt with 15.1 seconds remaining in the half. The sequence allowed Middleton to complete a rare five-point play, three points for the basket, one for the original blocking foul, and one point for the technical.
Jonas Valanciunas would also get a technical foul earlier in the quarter.
Milwaukee led Toronto 65-57 at halftime.
“They had a 42-point quarter, and we didn’t play well,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said.
The Bucks ran their lead up as many as 12 points in the third quarter before the Raptors brought it down to eight. Milwaukee led Toronto 96-88 after three quarters.
In the fourth, the Raptors took their first lead of the second half by going on an 8-0 run. They led 102-101 with 5:15 remaining. They extended the run to 10-0 before both teams would trade baskets down to the wire.
With the Bucks up 109-108 with 3.3 seconds remaining, Middleton missed the first of two free throws to give Milwaukee a 110-108 lead.
On Toronto’s final possession of regulation, Valanciunas dunked the ball just before the buzzer sounded to tie the game 110-110 and force overtime.
“It was perfect,” said DeRozan said of Valanciunas’ play. “All eyes are always on me and Kyle (Lowry) to get the ball and make a play. It’s great when we could do some misdirection type of things to mix it up.”
In the extra frame, the Bucks led 118-115 when Valanciunas hit another dunk with 36.1 seconds remaining to bring the Raptors within one point. Milwaukee centre John Henson’s hand struck Vanlanciunas’s face during the play, but officials didn’t call the foul.
“I thought he got fouled,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “I’d have to look at it again, but I thought he got fouled on both dunks.”
With the Bucks leading 120-117 with 12.8 seconds remaining in overtime, DeRozan missed on a three-point attempt to tie the game. He got his own rebound but managed just two points to cut Milwaukee’s lead to 120-119 with 0.8 seconds remaining.
The Bucks’ Jason Terry went to the line to shoot two after being fouled with 0.4 seconds remaining. He made both baskets.
Both teams were playing the first game since the NBA returned from a week-long All-Star break and the rust wore on the Raptors, who shot just 27 per cent from three-point range compared to 50 per cent from Milwaukee.
“We didn’t deserve to win that game,” Casey said. “We’ll take our medicine, got to learn from it and come back.”
David Alter, The Canadian Press