The Toronto Raptors come up short against the Milwaukee Bucks, falling by a final score of 115-108.
The Raptors had no answer for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who fell an assist shy of a triple-double with 24 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists. His All-Star teammate, Khris Middleton, came close to a triple-double himself, posting 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
The Raptors got 26 points out of Norman Powell and 21 points out of Kyle Lowry, but they could never quite get over the hump.
For more on the game, here are some takeaways at the buzzer.
1. Starting behind the eight ball
An hour before the game, Raptors PR announced that OG Anunoby (left calf strain) had been ruled out against the Bucks.
The Raptors were at risk of not having Pascal Siakam (left knee swelling) either, as he was listed as questionable ahead of the game, but he was upgraded to available shortly before tipoff.
Powell got the start in Anunoby's place.
2. The 10,000-point club
Lowry made some history in the first quarter by recording his 10,000th point in a Raptors uniform.
The six-time All-Star is now one of only three players who have ever scored 10,000 points with the Raptors. The others? Chris Bosh (10,275) and DeMar DeRozan (13,296).
9,999- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 28, 2021
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo has a thing for Aron Baynes
If you didn't know, Antetokounmpo has a history of dunking on Baynes.
Sure enough, Antetokounmpo got Baynes early with a rare alley-oop poster, courtesy of a pinpoint pass from Middleton.
Not a great business decision. pic.twitter.com/3hqQW0M5nc- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 28, 2021
Respect to Baynes for continuing to challenge Antetokounmpo, though.
4. The king of blocking 3s
Chris Boucher strikes again, coming up with his 10th blocked 3-pointer of the season.
No shot is safe from @chrisboucher pic.twitter.com/wx7H61hCF3- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 28, 2021
5. Norman Powell continues to shine as a starter
This would've been a completely different game were it not for Powell
Starting in place of Anunoby, Powell led the Raptors with a team-high 26 points, doing so on 8-for-13 shooting from the field and 5-for-7 from 3-point range. He's now scored 20 or more points in four straight games, the second-longest such streak of his career.
As I wrote following Toronto's loss to Indiana, Powell has been a different player in the games he's started in this season. He entered Wednesday's matchup averaging 19.2 points on .488/.378/.864 shooting splits as a starter compared to 10.5 points on .354/.385/.839 shooting splits as a reserve.
The Raptors would much rather be at full strength right now, but Powell finding his rhythm again has been one of the bright spots lately.
6. Bucks shut down the paint
The Bucks did what they always do in controlling the paint.
On the season, the Bucks are allowing 40.1 points per game in the paint. The only team giving up less points per game in the paint is the Miami Heat (39.4).
The Bucks took care of business against the Raptors in limiting them to 26 points in the paint. According to NBA.com, the Raptors have scored less paint points in only one game so far this season. That game? Their win over the Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 16, in which they scored 20 points in the paint.
The Raptors generated the bulk of their offence from the perimeter, connecting on 22-of-55 3-point attempts. They shot the ball well enough to keep themselves in the game, but there were stretches where they went cold and didn't have anything else to turn to.
Something else the Bucks did well? Limit the Raptors in transition. They actually held the Raptors to zero points in transition, marking the first time since 2016-17 that they haven't scored a single point on the fastbreak.
7. Fred VanVleet is a pest
It was a rough shooting game for VanVleet - he scored 10 points on 3-for-17 shooting from the field - but it felt like he was everywhere defensively. He finished the game with four steals and three blocks, and yet it felt like he did even more.
This stop on Antetokounmpo at the end of the third quarter, which capped off a 9-0 run to make it a one-point game going into the fourth quarter, was particularly impressive:
Freddy on defence- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 28, 2021
TD on offence pic.twitter.com/blMtsSBBsz
It's always a joy watching VanVleet fly around the court and muck things up for teams, even on nights when he's struggling to get his shot to drop.
8. A quiet game for Pascal Siakam
Siakam started the game strong with seven points in the first quarter, but he disappeared in the second half, combining for four points on 2-for-6 shooting from the field.
It was Siakam's first game back after missing two straight with left knee swelling. According to TSN's Josh Lewenberg, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said after the game that he thought Milwaukee's size took Siakam out of his spots.
Nurse also noted how Siakam wasn't getting out in transition, which could have had something to do with the knee issue he's been dealing with.
Nurse thought Milwaukee's size took Siakam out of his spots on O, but also didn't think he was running hard enough or getting out in transition - a likely result of the knee strain. Was glad to see him back, though, and thinks he'll be closer to full strength for Friday's game.- Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) January 28, 2021
Siakam did record four offensive rebounds and had some solid defensive possessions against Antetokounmpo, but this Raptors team needs his scoring.
9. What's next
The Raptors are back in action on Friday when they take on the Sacramento Kings (7-10). They will then face the Orlando Magic (8-11) on Sunday to end this three-game homestand.
Catch you then.
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