“I don’t even know what [Wednesday night opponent] Boston’s record is. That answers your question,” Casey said before the Raptors’ 116-94 win. “I don’t really look at Milwaukee’s record. We don’t have the luxury of looking at teams’ records. We’ve got to go out and play each game — whoever it is, it doesn’t matter … You keep asking that question. It’s not a legit question because we don’t have that right. We haven’t arrived yet.”
“You can’t,” DeRozan said. “It doesn’t matter who we play. Every team we play is an NBA team. We prepare for each one of them the same.” Told he was sounding a lot like his head coach, DeRozan smiled. “He said that? Nah, I’m just being honest. I tell the guys the same thing. We don’t look at who we are playing. We understand each game matters more than the last one. We don’t want to look back at the end of the season and say ‘We left this one on the table’ so we are going to put it out there every time we play.” The Bucks are a seven-win team on merit and other than a short show of life in that second quarter lived up to that billing.
Milwaukee’s ball movement kept the Bucks within striking range for about 30 minutes of basketball, largely thanks to a terrific 29-point, 9-rebound effort from Ersan Ilyasova (11/16 fg, 3/3 threes, 4/4 ft). Giannis Antetokounmpo and John Henson provided some further silver linings: Giannis had an active night with 11 points (5/10 fg, 1/4 ft), 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steal, 1 block and 4 turnovers, while Henson scored 8 points along with 5 rebounds and 4 blocks in his first game action in three weeks. Brandon Knight added 16 on 11 shots to go with 4 boards, 4 dimes and 1 turnover, but neither he nor any of the Bucks’ other guards could keep up with Lowry.
The playmaking ability of DeRozan – who registered four or more assists in a career-best sixth straight game – and John Salmons, adding five dimes along with his 10 points off the bench, took pressure off the Raptors’ point guard, freeing Lowry up on the weak side. As a team, the Raptors tallied 26 assists, shooting 51 per cent from the field and 12-of-23 from beyond the arch.
In what has become a theme, the Raptors bench scored 43 points led by Patterson with 18 points and backed up by John Salmons with 10 points and 5 assists. With everyone on the Raptors sharing the ball these days, even the bench had 13 assists in this game.
The second unit once again got the better of their opponents. Patrick Patterson, despite missing a couple of virtual lay-ups, had 18 points, while stone-faced swingman John Salmons chipped in 10, with 5 assists. Greivis Vasquez was solid, save for an annoying penchant to attempt casual passes, which led to 4 turnovers.
But the Raptors’ second unit, sparked by Patterson and former Bucks player John Salmons, helped Toronto pull away late in the third and early in the fourth quarter. “They made a really good trade (with Sacramento),” Ilyasova said of the deal that sent Rudy Gay to the Kings and brought Patterson, Salmons and backup point guard Greivis Vasquez to the Raptors. “They brought in a lot of guys who are unselfish and can share the ball. “It’s hard to defend a team like this that can really spread out the floor and make the three-point shots.”
”This Toronto team, they’re a good team,” Drew said. ”They’re solid across the board at every position. Their bench is a very productive bench. They really get after you. They’ve got guys that can make shots.”
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