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The Milwaukee Bucks countered every Toronto Raptors run Tuesday night with a scoring flurry of their own, but the Atlantic Division champions avoided a fourth-quarter collapse and left Air Canada Centre with a 106-100 Game 2 win to even the series at one win apiece.
Although the fourth quarter was filled with tense moments after the Raptors squandered a 13-point third-quarter lead, Kyle Lowry came up in the clutch when he drilled a deep, contested two-pointer over Malcolm Brogdon to put Toronto up four with 8.9 seconds remaining:
And while Lowry's shot stole the show in the end, the win was about more than one big bucket.
Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka were all stellar in the win, and their combined performances helped the Raptors poke holes in Milwaukee's long, athletic defense all night long.
Ibaka was the star of that triumvirate, and it wasn't just because he poured in four three-pointers en route to 16 points. Rather, it was his rim protection that set the tone for the Raptors on a night when the Bucks were held to 41.4 percent shooting from the field.
The Toronto Sun's Ryan Wolstat pointed to Ibaka as the driving force behind the Raptors' resurgence after looking a bit sluggish in the first half:
The other big story revolved around Lowry, who was limited to four points on 2-of-11 shooting in Game 1.
This time around, Toronto's floor general finished with 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting and five dimes, and he eclipsed his Game 1 scoring total by the end of the first quarter. Lowry looked far more comfortable orchestrating the offense Tuesday, as he split his time between attacking and distributing, as Sportsnet's Michael Grange noted:
As for the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo headlined the proceedings by flirting with a triple-double (24 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists). However, the Raptors deserve credit for cutting off his driving lanes a fair amount and holding him to 9-of-24 shooting from the field.
Not even the most air-tight defense could prevent the Greek Freak from attacking the rack with authority every time down the floor, however:
Antetokounmpo also briefly shook off his shooting woes to tie the game at 100 thanks to a triple at the top of the arc with 2:02 remaining in regulation. But that wound up being the last bucket Milwaukee would score, as open looks rimmed out repeatedly in crunch time.
With Game 2 in the books, the series will now shift to Milwaukee. Game 3 will tip off Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on NBATV, while Game 4 is scheduled to get underway Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on TNT.