TORONTO – Damian Lillard scored 37 points with a season-high 13 assists as the Milwaukee Bucks held off a late comeback effort to top the Toronto Raptors 128-112 on Wednesday.
Malik Beasley added 30 points on 11-of-14 shooting and going 8-of-11 from three-point range for Milwaukee (7-4).
The Bucks were missing superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo due to a right calf strain.
Scottie Barnes had 29 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for Toronto (5-6), which had won three of its last four entering the contest. Jakob Poeltl contributed 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The last time the two teams met was Nov. 1 at Scotiabank Arena, where the Raptors dominated the Bucks en route to a 130-111 victory.
Rookie guard-forward Gradey Dick made his first career start, joining Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh as one of three teenagers to start for the Raptors at 19 years 360 days old. Dick had 11 points on the night.
Toronto opened with an 8-2 run capped by a Poeltl bucket from six feet out 2:06 into the first quarter.
But the tide quickly shifted after a Bucks timeout. Milwaukee went on a tear, outscoring the Raptors 34-12 the remainder of the frame, led by Lillard’s 14 points.
In the second quarter, Dick hit a 19-foot jumper to trim the deficit to 50-40 with 4:48 left, the closest Toronto had been since 4:37 remained in the opening frame.
The momentum was short-lived, however, as Beasley closed the half with a 28-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Bucks their largest lead at 70-47.
Lillard carried the rhythm of his 24-point first half into the third quarter. He scored eight of Milwaukee’s first 10 points, as the Bucks pushed their lead to 30 early in the frame.
The Raptors struggled on both ends to the dismay of the crowd, until an 8-0 run late in the quarter made it 98-78. Milwaukee took a 100-79 edge into the final frame.
Malachi Flynn’s high-arching floater over the outstretched arms of Brook Lopez brought Toronto within 15 points with 9:19 left in the fourth quarter, which prompted a Bucks timeout. A contested layup from Poeltl just over two minutes later cut it to 107-94.
But Milwaukee later went on an 11-2 run capped by two consecutive three-pointers by Cameron Payne to make it 126-103 with 3:20 left as Toronto sat its starters.
Toronto has dealt with its share of injuries so far, and were without forward O.G. Anunoby (right finger cut) and guard Gary Trent Jr. (right foot, plantar fasciitis) on Wednesday for a second straight game.
Missing some of his best shooters and floor spacers, head coach Darko Rajakovic said the team just needs to keep developing under his system.
“There is no alternative,” Rajakovic said pre-game. “We’ve got to be the team that is going to move the ball. We’re building not just for one game or a stretch of games. We’re building for the future.
“We’re building our habits that (are) going to last with this team and be with this group for many years to come. I never expected it was going to be easy. I never expected to be on the road without any bumps.”
The Raptors open In-Season Tournament action at home against the Boston Celtics on Friday.
The Bucks visit the Charlotte Hornets for In-Season Tournament action on Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 15, 2023.
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