Lowry leads Raptors to 120-102 win
Raptors fans would have been fearing as they watched Kawhi Leonard look for much of the night like he was running in mud. Especially, after he limped badly after a big dunk.
Just two days removed from playing in the longest game of his career. The Raptors superstar was hurting on Tuesday. However, for once, the Raptors didn’t rely on a superhuman effort from Leonard. They got big performances from the supporting cast.
Therefore, Kyle Lowry recorded 25 points as the Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 120-102. Thus tying the Eastern Conference finals series at two wins apiece, and resting on a knife-edge ahead of Game Five. And moments after one of the best all-around games of the post-season, the Raptors guard talked about rallying around Leonard on a night he was “limited.”
“We stepped up for him,” Lowry said. “He’s given us a lot through these playoffs. A couple of games where we can give him a chance to not have to do as much and carry the load as much. He got down to 34 minutes tonight. I wish he would have played less than 30.
“We want him healthy. But we have a game like this where everyone steps up, it’s a lot of easing the pressure off him doing something offensively for us.”
There were six Raptors players that recorded double figures. Leonard had 19, Norman Powell had 18, while Serge Ibaka had 17 points and 13 boards, Marc Gasol scored 17 points, and Fred VanVleet chipped in with 13. The latter of which would have been pleased with his evening after showcasing poor form in the post-season.
Now, the Raptors will head back to Milwaukee for Game Five on Thursday on the heels of two straight wins on their home court.
“We wanted to change the narrative coming home,” said Powell, who led a bench that outscored Milwaukee’s 48-23. “The aim was to protect home court. We wanted to come out with a lot of juice, be the aggressors, be more physical and take the game to them.”
Meanwhile, Khris Middleton had 30 points for the Bucks, and Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded 25 points and ten rebounds.
Two nights before, Toronto edged the Bucks 118-112 after double overtime for their first win of this tense series. However, the heavy minutes took their toll on players like Leonard. The superstar missed all but nine games last season with a serious quadriceps injury and played a career-high 52 minutes.
“I feel good,” Leonard insisted after the game. “Keep going and keep fighting, and we have a chance to make history.”
If Leonard was limited, the Bucks didn’t get the memo. They double- and triple-teamed him all night, allowing other Raptors to score.
“The great thing about having him on your team is he still gets all the attention,” said Lowry, who’s also playing through the pain with a sprained left thumb. “We fed off of that. Drive, kick, swing. He gets in the lane, kick out.”
The Bucks led the league with 60 wins during the regular season; two more victories than the Raptors. The big reason for this was their reputation for bouncing back with big games after defeats. However, Tuesday marked only the second time they’d lost back-to-back games this season. The Raptors will now be hoping there will be no response to consecutive defeats, as they will be looking to pull ahead in the series on Thursday.