DeRozan scores 31 points as Raptors beat Bucks 87-76 to even series
MILWAUKEE - DeMar DeRozan made good on his promise.
Two days after he went without a field goal in Game 3, DeRozan scored 33 points to lift the Raptors to an 87-76 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.
The victory sends the best-of-seven opening-round series back to Toronto for Game 5 all tied up at two wins apiece.
The morning after the Raptors were shocked and humiliated 104-77 in Game 3, DeRozan vowed that Saturday's game would be different.
"There's a side of me that's going to come out after I feel like I let my team down,'' DeRozan said at the time.
He shot 12-for-22 on the afternoon, and hit all nine free throws. Kyle Lowry added 18 points while Norman Powell and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 apiece, and Serge Ibaka finished with 10.
Tony Snell had 19 points to top Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 14 points and nine boards.
The Raptors played with more poise that at any moment during Game 3, and led by as many as nine points before taking a 64-58 advantage into the fourth in front of a frantic capacity crowd of 18,717 fans at BMO Harris Bradley Center.
A free throw by Antetokounmpo with five-and-a-half minutes left pulled the Bucks to within five points, but the Raptors, who led the league in comeback victories this season, didn't get frazzled. When Powell drilled a three-pointer with four minutes left, it gave Toronto a 10-point lead and prompted a "Let's go Raptors!'' cheer from one section of the arena.
Consecutive baskets from Lowry and Valanciunas put Toronto up by 11 and it was all but game over.
After the Raptors dug themselves an ugly 31-point deficit in Game 3, coach Dwane Casey went smaller, inserting Powell into the starting lineup for Valanciunas, who has struggled in this series, and moved Ibaka to centre.
The Raptors played with more poise from the opening tipoff, and when Valanciunas drilled two free throws, it gave Toronto a five-point lead with two minutes to play in the first quarter. A mini Bucks run saw the quarter end tied 19-19.
A couple of terrible Toronto turnovers prompted a Bucks' run that gave them a seven-point lead with 5:33 left in the first half. The Raptors closed the second quarter on a 15-8 run to send the teams into the break tied at 41-41.
The Raptors opened up a seven-point lead when Lowry drilled a three from in front of the Bucks bench, snarling in their direction after the ball dropped through, with 3:28 to play in the third quarter.
Game 6 is back at the Bradley Center on Wednesday.
Another raucous crowd of Bucks fans, waving white "Fear the Dear'' towels, squeezed into the arena. Some hoisted signs such as: "Canadian bacon = ham,'' and "Lowry whines more than happy hour.''
Pockets of Toronto fans, one holding a sign that read "The Buck Stops Here,'' dotted the arena. The supporters were vocal enough that their singing of O Canada was audible.
The Bucks captured the series opener 97-83. The Raptors fought back to take Game 2 106-100.