TORONTO â€” The Milwaukee Bucks are going home with a win and no shortage of self-confidence.
Despite dropping Game 2 to the Raptors 106-100 Tuesday, the young Bucks leave Toronto with their first-round playoff series tied.
“We at least wanted to get one win and we did that,” said rookie guard Malcolm Brogdon, who finished with seven points. “For the most part our goal was accomplished coming up here. Going back home we have a chip on our shoulder and I think we have the advantage.”
“I think we definitely gained a lot of things out of these two games,” added Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was three assists short of a triple-double with 24 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists. “I think we got their attention. We did what we we’re supposed to do â€” play hard both games.”
Game 3 is Thursday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
For the second game in a row, Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 24 points with eight points in the first half and eight in each of the third and fourth quarters. He had 28 points in Game 1 Saturday.
Antetokounmpo also became the first Buck since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to finish a playoff game with six-plus offensive rebounds, six-plus defensive rebounds and six-plus assists.
Despite the defeat, the sixth-seeded Bucks kept fighting back against the third-seeded Raptors each time Toronto tried to put them away.
Like his teammates, Antetokounmpo had a slow start Tuesday. He had two points on 1-of-6 shooting in the first quarter but the Bucks made four of five three-pointers to keep it close and trailed 28-25 at the end of the first.
The Athens-born Antetokounmpo, known as the Greek Freak, finished the half with eight points on 4-of-14 shooting. But with 10 rebounds and four assists, he was still making himself useful. Toronto led 55-52 at the half.
“This was a game where we knew they were going to come out hungry,” said Brogdon. “And we knew we needed to come out as hungry. And we didn’t. I thought they were the more desperate team tonight.”
Both teams went on runs in the third quarter with Milwaukee answering Toronto. With the score tied at 60, Toronto went on a 13-0 run. Then the Bucks went on a 15-4 run.
The Raptors led 84-83 going into the final quarter. Led by Serge Ibaka, Toronto increased its lead to 95-83 but again Milwaukee clawed its way back.
A three-pointer by Antetokounmpo tied the game at 100-100 with under two minutes remaining, setting the stage for a rip-roaring finale.
Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd praised his team’s resilience.
“I think the guys fought,” he said. “It would have been easy to let go of the rope. We got down but they kept playing and we had an opportunity there. We got some great looks â€” the ball goes halfway down and comes out. That’s just basketball. It can be nice or it can be cruel.”
Brogdon’s three-pointer went in and came back out with just under two minutes remaining and the Bucks trailing 102-100. Milwaukee missed four more shots after that.
Centre Greg Monroe said the Bucks need to limit Toronto’s three-point shooting â€” the Raptors made 14 three-pointers Tuesday â€” and get back to moving the ball around and breaking out fast on offence.
The home crowd will help.
“I’m definitely looking forward to the fans,” Monroe said. “I’m pretty sure they’re excited to have us back home for the playoffs.”
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press