The Canadian Press
MILWAUKEE–It was a pure-hustle play that was trademark Kyle Lowry. During the third quarter last night, the Toronto Raptors point guard made like a beach volleyball player, diving wildly to bat in a wayward Danny Green pass that was heading out of bounds.
Playing with a sprained and taped left thumb, Lowry had one of his best post-season performances of his career–but it was all for nought in a 108-100 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the opening game of the Eastern Conference final.
Lowry had 30 points and a post-season career-high seven three-pointers. But he was also the only Raptor to score a field goal in a horrible fourth quarter that cost Toronto the game.
Brook Lopez scored 13 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, while Giannis Antetokounmpo added 24 points and 14 rebounds for Milwaukee.
Kawhi Leonard had 31 points, while Pascal Siakam added 15 points for the Raptors, who led for 37 of the game’s 48 minutes. But the Raptors–minus Lowry–shot 0-for-15 in the fourth.
Now the Raptors must regroup for Game 2 of their best-of-seven series on Friday.
Backed by their solid defensive effort, the Raptors dominated for most of the night, taking a 13-point first-quarter lead, and responding well to every Bucks run.
And when Siakam’s three-point shot dropped at the buzzer to end the third, it sent Toronto into the fourth with an 83-76 advantage.
And then it all fell apart.
A pair of Nikola Mirotic free throws capped an 8-0 Bucks run to begin the final frame, giving the home team their first lead since early in the first quarter.
Malcolm Brogdon’s fast-break dunk put the Bucks up by five and ignited the capacity Fiserv Forum crowd of 17,345 that included Bucks legend Oscar Robinson and Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament.
A pair of Lowry three-pointers a minute and 19 seconds apart tied the game at 98-98 with 3:31 to play.
Lopez responded however with a dunk and three-pointer and the Bucks took a four-point lead into the final 1:55.
Eric Bledsoe’s pair of free throws with 42 seconds to play all but sealed the victory for Milwaukee.
The winner of this series will have home-court advantage for the NBA Finals against either the Golden State Warriors or the Portland Trail Blazers.
The series shifts to Toronto for Games 3 and 4.