Bucks blow out Raptors for 2-1 series lead
MILWAUKEE -- There was no easy way to sum up how badly things went Thursday night for the Toronto Raptors, but Kyle Lowry sure came close.
“We got our (butts) bust,” Lowry said after his Raptors’ squad was blown out 104-77 by the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 3 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series at the Bradley Center.
It was ugly from the start. The Raptors fell behind by double digits early and never caught up to the Bucks, who took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“They ambushed us,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “There was no aspect of our game that we executed whatsoever.”
Milwaukee’s defense flummoxed Toronto, which shot 33.8 percent from the floor and made only 6 of 22 3-point attempts. Nobody struggled more than shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, who missed all eight of his attempts from the floor and finished with eight points for the game.
Lowry and Delon Wright scored 13 each to lead the Raptors, who turned the ball over 16 times for 17 Milwaukee points and fell behind by 16 early in the first quarter.
“They came out and threw the first punch,” Toronto guard DeMarre Carroll said. “We were back on our heels and we never got back into the game. We didn’t come out with the sense of urgency that we needed.”
Milwaukee’s offense was in rhythm all night. The Bucks hit 52.7 percent of their shots from the floor and knocked down 12 of 23 3-point attempts, finishing one 3-pointer shy of the franchise’s playoff record.
Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 20 while Giannis Antetokounmpo added 19. The duo combined for 21 of Milwaukee’s 32 in the opening quarter as the Bucks connected at a 66.7 percent clip and held the Raptors to 4-of-18 shooting. Toronto had nothing to show for its first six 3-point attempts.
That set a tone for the Bucks, who fed off the sellout home crowd. A 17-5 run to open the second quarter stretched the lead to 31, and Milwaukee cruised into halftime with a 57-30 advantage.
“I just tried to take advantage of the screens that were being set for me,” Middleton said. “Just an aggressive curl led to a score. Once I felt like I didn’t have the shot, I just tried to find the open man and let them do the rest of the work.”
Milwaukee finally cooled off in the third, making only 6 of 14 shots, but the Raptors’ offense couldn’t shake out of its funk. Toronto went 6 of 19 from the floor, made 2 of 7 3-pointers and trailed by 32 to open the fourth.
“Defensively, we played really hard,” said Antetokounmpo, who added eight rebounds, four assists and a pair of blocked shots in 32 minutes of action. “Our goal was to keep the score low, and they only scored 77 points. I think, by doing that, we’re going to have a chance to be in the game.”
Antetokounmpo scored nine more in the final quarter, and the Raptors got no closer than 23 points the rest of the way.
They won’t have much time to regroup. The two teams will meet again Saturday in Game 4, with the Bucks in position to send the series back to Toronto with a commanding lead.
”We’ll make changes,“ Casey said. ”We made changes going into the second half. Whoever goes in has to go in and make a difference, and we didn‘t.
“They played at a high level but I thought we played at a Game 1 speed and level. As a staff, we have to do a better job of finding ways to open space and finding ways to score. I thought we went back to not moving the basketball and it got away from us tonight and that carried over to the defensive end.”
NOTES: Milwaukee has not held a 2-1 lead in a playoff series since taking two of the first three games from Charlotte in the 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals. The Bucks have lost their last seven playoff series overall. ... Toronto’s 77 points were the franchise’s fewest in a playoff game since scoring 63 against Detroit on April 21, 2012. ... Toronto G DeMar DeRozan failed to make a shot from the floor for the first time in his playoff career. ... Toronto took three of the four regular-season meetings with Milwaukee.