The Canadian Press
TORONTO–A second loss to the Milwaukee Bucks and a slumping Kyle Lowry.
On a night that shone a spotlight on Lowry’s offensive struggles, the Bucks downed Toronto 104-99 yesterday–becoming the first team to beat the league-leading Raptors twice this season.
Lowry had zero points and three turnovers. And moments after the narrow loss, the four-time all-star sounded puzzled by his performance.
“I’ve gotta look at the film, see where it was at,” Lowry said quietly.
“I don’t know,” he added. “Just couldn’t find the open ones tonight.”
Kawhi Leonard, who had 20 points on the night, said it’s only a matter of time before Lowry gets his offensive groove back.
“I feel like he should be a little bit more aggressive,” Leonard said. “Our offence allows everybody to be themselves and take their shots.
“It’s a lot of freedom.
“With that said, he’s gonna have some big games coming up,” Leonard added.
“I think he’s been shooting it good, it’s just the ball hasn’t been falling for him.
“We’re still in the games late with him struggling with shooting,” Leonard noted. “He’s just got to keep being himself and they’re going to fall.”
Serge Ibaka led the Raptors with 22 points, Fred VanVleet added 19, and Pascal Siakam finished with 17.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 19 points and 19 rebounds while Brook Lopez had 19 points to lead the Bucks (17-8), who are second in the East.
The Raptors had hoped to gain a leg up on what could be an Eastern Conference post-season opponent, particularly after suffering their first loss of the season to the Bucks, 124-109 on Oct. 29 in Milwaukee.
Neither Leonard (rest) nor Antetokounmpo (concussion protocol) played that night.
But it was the Bucks who led for much of the night, taking a 79-74 advantage into the fourth quarter before stretching it to 11 points less than 90 seconds later.
When Ibaka drilled a three-pointer with 5:18 to play, then raised his arms to the fans, signalling them to cheer, it pulled the Raptors to within three points.
A three-pointer from VanVleet, then one from Leonard that bounced off the far side of the rim before falling through the hoop, sent the Raptors into the edge-of-your-seat final two minutes with a 97-94 lead.
Malcolm Brogdon quieted the crowd with back-to-back “threes” to give the Bucks a three-point lead. A VanVleet basket made it a one-point game but Antetokounmpo drove to the hoop for a dunk with 12 seconds to play that sealed the Bucks’ victory.
“To go on the road and play the top team in our conference, and have it go down to the wire and find a way to win, is a great win for the team,” said Bucks’ coach Mike Budenholzer.
The Raptors were coming off a 106-105 overtime loss in Brooklyn on Friday night.
Toronto’s tough stretch of games doesn’t let up. They now head west for four games beginning tomorrow against the Clippers in L.A.
Then they’ll travel to Golden State, Portland, and Denver before returning home to host Indiana on Dec. 19.