Raptors eliminate Bucks despite Antetokounmpo’s 34 points

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks went on a 34-7 run to erase a 25-point deficit, but were eliminated by the Toronto Raptors 92-89.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 34 points on 13-of-23 shooting, but he made perhaps a critical error that could have provided Milwaukee a better chance to win. Down by three with less than 11 seconds remaining, Antetokounmpo dribbled out the clock at the top of the key, but instead of setting up a three-point shot, he drove in for a dunk with 3.5 seconds left.

DeMar DeRozan drained a pair of free throws on the other end to extend Toronto’s lead back to three points and Milwaukee’s in-bounds pass was intercepted, handing the Bucks their third-straight loss in the series.

Milwaukee was leading the series 2-1 before heading back to the BMO Harris Bradley Center for game four. It’s the first time in Toronto history the Raptors have won three straight games in a playoff series.

Khris Middleton returned from an illness to score 19 points in 42 minutes of action. Matthew Dellavedova was next on the team in scoring with 12 off the bench.

Raptors blow out Bucks in Game 5 to take series lead

TORONTO — All five starters scored in double digits as the Toronto Raptors blew past the Milwaukee Bucks 118-93 in Monday night’s game five of the NBA playoffs.

Norman Powell had a playoff career-high 25 points to lead a Raptors team that shot nearly 58 percent from the field. Serge Ibaka followed with 19 points, six rebounds, and three blocks.

Fighting through an illness, Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton only contributed eight points in Milwaukee’s losing effort. Giannis Antetokounmpo poured in a game-high 30 to go with his nine rebounds.

Milwaukee started out sluggish, turning the ball over three times, while Toronto opened up an early lead. That lead grew to 19 late in the first half, but the Bucks were able to close it to six just before intermission. But coming out of the locker room, the Raptors slowly built the lead back up, grabbing 40 of the game’s 63 rebounds.

The series moves back to Milwaukee for a possible series-deciding game six on Thursday, with the Raptors holding a 3-2 series lead.

Turnovers, poor shooting hurt Milwaukee in Game 4 loss to Toronto

With their season seemingly on the line, the Toronto Raptors responded with an 87-76 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 4 of their best-of-seven series on Saturday.

After not making a field goal in a blowout loss in Game 3 on Thursday night, Toronto All-Star DeMar DeRozan was the best player on the court, scoring 33 points, grabbing nine rebounds, handing out five assists and collecting four steals.

But Milwaukee didn’t lose the game on the defensive end. The series is tied at two games apiece because the Bucks couldn’t take care of the ball and couldn’t make a shot. Coach Jason Kidd’s team turned the ball over 20 times, including seven by Giannis Antetokounmpo, while shooting just 37 percent from the field and 23.8 percent from beyond the arc.

Antetokounmpo had a series-low 14 points, while guard Khris Middleton could manage just 10 points on 4 of 13 shooting. Defensive specialist Tony Snell led the team with 19 points, including hitting all five of Milwaukee’s 3-pointers.

The loss gives Toronto home-court advantage back as the series now because a best-of-three, starting with Game 5 on Monday at the Air Canada Centre.

Bucks cruise to a 104-77 win over the Raptors in Game 3

Game 3 was no contest for the sixth-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, as they rolled over the third-seeded Toronto Raptors 104-77 Thursday night to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

From the opening tip the crowd inside the BMO Harris Bradley Center was roaring, and the Bucks responded in kind, outscoring the Raptors 57-30 in the first half on the way to their biggest margin of victory in a playoff game since 1984.

“We know they’re going to come back on Saturday afternoon ready, just like after (losing) game one,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said of the Raptors. “Bu I thought the guys did everything we’ve prepared them to do. Defense is what we’ve always concentrated on and sharing the ball on the offensive end. The guys did that.”

Guard Khris Middleton led the way for Milwaukee, scoring 20 points and handing out seven assists, while forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had 19 points and eight rebounds. Center Greg Monroe added 16 points off the bench for a Milwaukee squad that shot 52.7 percent from the field and 52.2 percent from beyond the arc.

As good as the Bucks were on offense, they were just as good, if not better, on the other end of the court. They limited the Raptors All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozen to 21 combined points on 4 of 18 shooting, including the latter going 0 of 8, the first time he’s been held without a field goal in his playoff career.

The win gave Milwaukee its first 2-1 lead in a playoff series since 2001.

Game 4 is set for Saturday in Milwaukee. Tip time is at 2 p.m.

Milwaukee comes up just short against Toronto in 106-100 loss

Kyle Lowry hit a tough jumper with 8.9 seconds left to help Toronto even up their best-of-seven series at one against Milwaukee with a 106-100 win on Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre.

With Bucks guard Malcom Brogdon right in his face, the Raptors All-Star was able to get just enough separation and buried the shot, taking with it Milwaukee’s hopes of heading home up two games to none.

“If I would have missed it, I still would have been happy, because I got to my spot,” said Lowry, who finished with 22 points. “I was going to try to make it.”

Lowry’s dagger came after Milwaukee got two open looks at 3-pointers in the final two minutes and trailing by just two. But both Brogdon and Matthew Dellavedova couldn’t get their shots to fall.

“It was in and out,” Brogdon said of his shot. “It was wide-open. I was hoping it would drop, but it didn’t. That’s what happens sometimes.”

Milwaukee trailed by as many as 12 in the final quarter, but continued to fight its way back into the game only to come up just short in the end.

“It would have been easy to let go of the rope,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We got down, but they kept playing. We had an opportunity there. We got some great looks. The ball goes halfway down and comes out. That’s just basketball. It can be nice or it can be cruel.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for Milwaukee with 24 points and 15 rebounds, while Khris Middleton added 20 and Greg Monroe had 18 off the bench.

Toronto was paced by DeMar DeRozan’s 23 points.

The series now heads back to Milwaukee for the next two contests, with Game 3 taking place Thursday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Bucks steal game 1 in Toronto 97-83

TORONTO — The Milwaukee Bucks hadn’t won a road playoff game one in 17 tries, but 28 points from Giannis Antetokounmpo helped snap that trend in a 97-83 win over the Toronto Raptors.

Antetokounmpo shot 72 percent from the field in the win, adding eight rebounds and two steals to the stat sheet. Perhaps more importantly, his supporting cast did their part, with five other Bucks players scoring in the double digits. Greg Monroe was particularly effective, logging 14 points and 15 rebounds off the bench.

Toronto scored just 32 points in the second half, struggling to 36 percent shooting overall. The Raptors couldn’t take advantage of 47 total rebounds, turning the ball over 10 times. DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 27 points and eight rebounds.

Bucks clinch at least a six seed in playoffs with win over Hornets

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks can do no worse than a No. 6 seed in the postseason after taking down the Charlotte Hornets 89-79 Monday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists marked his eighth triple double of the season, in which the Bucks are 7-1. Tony Snell and Greg Monroe led Milwaukee in scoring with 16 points apiece, while holding Charlotte’s Frank Kaminsky III to three points on 1-of-12 shooting from the field.

The Bucks not only crashed the boards with a 45-39 advantage over the Hornets, but they shot 57 percent (16-of-28) from three-point range. They could improve in the turnover department, however, allowing Charlotte 16 opportunities to stay in the game.

Playoff Seeding Scenarios
MIL is a No. 6 seed with a win or a loss at BOS
MIL is a No. 5 seed with a win at BOS, plus two losses by ATL

If the Playoffs Started Today…
Bucks (6) vs Raptors (3): TOR leads season series 3-1
Last game: Mar. 4 | MIL 101, TOR 94

Milwaukee’s win over Charlotte gave the Bucks a 42-39 record, securing a winning season for just the sixth time in the last 26 years.

Antetokounmpo’s 25 points not enough as the Bucks fall at Indiana 104-89

The hottest team in March has yet to win a game in the month of April.

For a third straight outing, the Milwaukee Bucks were on the losing end, this one a 104-89 setback against the Indiana Pacers to drop coach Jason Kidd’s team into the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race with three games to play.

“It’s hard to win in this league in March and April,” Kidd said afterwards. “Everyone’s trying to win. The teams that aren’t in the playoffs are trying to win, too, and trying to get better. You can’t take anybody lightly. You can’t exhale. For us, we’ve got to get back to being the aggressors.”

Playing without rookie Malcom Brogdon (back soreness) for a fourth straight game, the Bucks turned the ball over 21 times – the second-most they’ve had in a game all year – allowing the Pacers to turn defense into offense and keeping Milwaukee out of any kind of rhythm.

“We had way too many turnovers. We talked about it before the game,” Kidd said. “You turn the ball over against them it puts you in a bad situation defensively, because they’re going to take advantage of it, and they did.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo had a game-high 25 points, while Mirza Teletovic had 15 points (5 of 8 on 3-pointers) off the bench for the Bucks.

Had Milwaukee won, it would have clinched a playoff berth for just the third time since 2010. As it stands, the Bucks are now a ½ game back of Atlanta for the No. 5 seed, and a game up on the Bulls and Pacers.

“We can’t worry about (Indiana) or Chicago. We’ve done our job in the sense of the (season) series and tiebreakers (with them) if that comes into play,” Kidd said. “But we are still in control of our own destiny. We just have to find a way to win.”

Milwaukee will finish out the year at Philadelphia on Saturday, a home game against Charlotte on Monday and then a trip to Boston next Wednesday.

Fourth quarter push lifts Mavs over Bucks

MILWAUKEE — A 34-point fourth quarter for the Dallas Mavericks gave them a 109-105 win over the Milwaukee Bucks Sunday afternoon.

Despite being eliminated from playoff contention, Dallas erased a seven-point third-quarter deficit led by the 31 points of Harrison Barnes. He shot over 69 percent from the field and made all 10 of his free throw attempts. Dirk Nowitzki and J.J. Barea each added 17 to contribute in the win. Giannis Antetokounmpo was Milwaukee’s high-point man with 31, adding 15 rebounds and nine assists.

”I think it wasn’t who we are today,” Antetokounmpo said. ”We didn’t play hard enough. We didn’t do what we usually do. That’s the game, and we move on.”

Gary Payton II signed a two-year partially-guaranteed contract with the Bucks over the weekend and scored five points in eight minutes of play in his debut.

“I can’t stop smiling,” Payton told reporters after the game. “It’s just beyond a blessing to get an opportunity to play here. I felt good tonight and got that first one under my belt. I’m ready to continue to learn.”

Milwaukee takes out Detroit 108-105 in overtime

The Milwaukee Bucks closed out the month of March in style, overcoming a fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Detroit Pistons 108-105 in overtime on Friday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 28 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and handed out nine assists, while Khris Middleton added 25 points. But it was the play of rookie Thon Maker that had everyone talking following a career-high 23 points from the first-round pick.

“Unbelievable,” Antetokounmpo said of the 7-foot-1 Maker. “The way he plays. The way he practices. The way he learns. The way he gets better every day. It’s unbelievable.”

Milwaukee led by as many as 17 points in the first quarter only to see the Pistons claw away and eventually retake the lead in the third quarter. Detroit built on that advantage and led by 10 with 4:58 remaining in the game. That’s when Antetokounmpo took charge, scoring 10 of Milwaukee’s next 12 points to help the game get to overtime tied at 95.

In the extra period, it was a pair of big 3-pointers that got Milwaukee across the line for the win. First, Maker drilled one with 1:58 left to take a three-point lead. Maker had some motivation to take – and make – the shot courtesy of Antetokounmpo.

“If you hesitate, I’m going to punch you,” Antetokounmpo told Fox Sports Wisconsin of his message for Maker. “So shoot the ball whenever you get it.”

The shot was big, but his offensive rebound less than a minute later proved to be the dagger the Bucks needed, as his tip out off a missed shot ended up in the hands of Middleton, who drilled the 3-pointer.

It was win No. 14 in the month of March, the most in a single month for the franchise since 1971, and it gave them the No. 5 playoff spot to themselves with just seven games remaining.

Milwaukee will take on Oklahoma City on Sunday afternoon at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.