Bucks overwhelm Raptors 104-77, take 2-1 series lead
Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo drives past Toronto Raptors' Norman Powell during the second half of game 3 of their NBA first-round playoff series basketball game, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
By Genaro C. Armas, Associated Press
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Khris Middleton scored 20 points and the Milwaukee Bucks overwhelmed the cold-shooting Toronto Raptors for a 104-77 win on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
Greg Monroe added 16 points and seven rebounds for the Bucks, who held DeMar DeRozan without a basket and never looked back after leading by 20 points after the first quarter.
Making this blowout even more impressive was that they barely needed All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo. He finished with 19 points and eight boards.
Game four is Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) back at the Bradley Center.
With raucous fans wearing black Bucks giveaway T-shirts to match the players' uniforms, Milwaukee put on a dominating display of basketball worthy of the team's "Fear the Deer" slogan.
The Raptors looked frazzled after shooting 4-of-18 in the first quarter. Kyle Lowry had 13 points.
DeRozan scored eight but was 0-of-8 from the field. The Raptors and their playoff-tested backcourt looked nothing like the crew that held off the Bucks in game two in Toronto.
This night belonged to Milwaukee.
The Bucks moved the ball well, hit open shots and had a double-digit edge on points in the paint for much of the night.
On the other end, the Bucks' length bothered the Raptors. Toronto also started poorly from the three-point line, missing its first six shots from behind the arc.
With about six minutes left in the second quarter, the Raptors had called their fourth timeout while trailing by 31. They had only six field goals at the time.
If the Bucks take this series, game three might be seen as a turning point in the development of an up-and-coming franchise in a town starving for basketball success. Milwaukee hasn't won a playoff series since going to the conference finals in 2001.
Few fans, if any, left the sold-out Bradley Center by the end of the night, cheering loudly for every last Antetokounmpo dunk and block.
Raptors: Toronto trailed 57-30 at the half, tying the team's regular-season low for scoring in a half. The Raptors scored 30 in the second half of a loss at Charlotte on Jan. 20, 2017 (Jan. 21, PHL time). Frustration was evident early in the game. Serge Ibaka was whistled for a technical foul with 2:03 left in the first half and Toronto trailing by 31 points after slamming the ball hard on the floor following a defensive goaltending call.
Bucks: Middleton finished 8-of-15 after hitting his first five shots to get the offense going. The 6’8” forward is the Bucks' best all-around player after Antetokounmpo with his ability to hit from the three-point line, create in traffic and defend on the perimeter. Monroe fouled out with 8:07 left.