Lowry has 25, Rap­tors rout Bucks 120-102 to even East finals

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Ian Har­ri­son AP Writer

TORONTO — With a weary Kawhi Leonard fight­ing through fa­tigue, the Toronto Rap­tors found enough en­ergy to pull away from the Mil­wau­kee Bucks. Kyle Lowry led the way. Lowry scored 25 points, Leonard had 19 and the Rap­tors beat the Mil­wau­kee Bucks 120-102 on Tues­day night to even the Eastern Con­fer­ence finals at two games apiece.

“This was one of the nights that we knew Kawhi was a lit­tle bit lim­ited and we had to come out and be ag­gres­sive for him,” Lowry said.

Leonard played 52 min­utes in a dou­ble-over­time win in Game 3 on Sun­day despite deal­ing with leg sore­ness. He limped away from the bas­ket fol­low­ing a third-quar­ter dunk in Game 4, but still toughed it out for 34 min­utes.

“I feel good,” Leonard in­sisted. “I’m go­ing to keep go­ing and keep fight­ing. We have a chance to make his­tory.”

Rap­tors coach Nick Nurse said he’s not wor­ried about Leonard’s health.

“He’s cer­tainly tired, like a lot of guys in this se­ries are,” Nurse said. “He looks OK to me. There was one time I was try­ing to give him an ex­tended rest and he didn’t re­ally want it so he must be OK.”

Serge Ibaka had 17 points and 13 re­bounds for the Rap­tors, who im­proved to

7-2 at home this post­sea­son. Re­serve Norm Pow­ell scored 18 points, and Marc Ga­sol had 17 points and a teamhigh seven as­sists.

“The first two games, they re­ally brought the in­ten­sity to us,” Pow­ell said. “They re­ally came out and were more phys­i­cal, more ac­tive. We wanted to change that nar­ra­tive com­ing home.”

The home team has won all four games in the se­ries so far. Game 5 is Thursday night in Mil­wau­kee.

“We need to take this chal­lenge of play­ing in a hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment,” Nurse said. “We’re go­ing into a tough, loud place to play. Let’s see if those guys can bring that same pop and fo­cus and de­ter­mi­na­tion on the road.”

Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo had 25 points and 10 re­bounds for the top-seeded Bucks. Khris Mid­dle­ton scored 30 points, but no one else had more than 11.

Mil­wau­kee lost its sec­ond straight fol­low­ing a six-game win­ning streak. It dropped con­sec­u­tive games just once dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, at Utah on March 2 and at Phoenix on March 4.

“This is prob­a­bly the first night de­fen­sively where I don’t feel like we were close to where you need to be,” coach Mike Bu­den­holzer said. “We got punched. They played re­ally well.”

Toronto’s Fred Van­vleet, who missed 16 of 20 shot at­tempts through the first three games of the se­ries, went 5 for 6 from the field in Game 4. He made each of his three 3-point tries and fin­ished with 13 points.

“He needed one of those games,” Lowry said. “He played well and made some great plays tonight.”

Ahead 94-81 to start the fourth, the Rap­tors ex­tended their lead with a 10-3 spurt, in­clud­ing seven points from Van­vleet. Pow­ell’s fast-break layup with 8:35 left put Toronto up 104-84.

“We’ve got to guard bet­ter,” Mid­dle­ton said. “Ev­ery­body on their team, I feel like they got pretty much what­ever they wanted. Ev­ery­thing was easy.”

An­te­tok­oun­mpo shot 5 for 8 in the open­ing frame, match­ing the num­ber of made bas­kets he had dur­ing Game 3. How­ever, the Bucks star went 4 for 9 the rest of the way.

Leonard and Pas­cal Si­akam, who both played more than 50 min­utes Sun­day, looked slug­gish in the open­ing half. Leonard missed the only shot he took in the sec­ond, while Si­akam played fewer than three min­utes in the sec­ond af­ter pick­ing up his third foul. Si­akam had two points at half­time.

Leonard came up limp­ing af­ter dunk­ing against An­te­tok­oun­mpo early in the third, but re­mained in the game. Mo­ments later, Si­akam com­pleted a three­p­oint play that put Toronto up 73-60 with 8:43 left.

“We just came out in the third quar­ter flat,” An­te­tok­oun­mpo said.

Ilyasova missed a 3 with 3:50 re­main­ing in the third that could have cut the deficit to four points. Pow­ell replied with a 3 and, fol­low­ing

miss by Mal­colm Brog­don, Leonard drained a jumper to push Toronto’s lead to 86-74.

TIP-INS

Bucks: Mid­dle­ton missed his first at­tempt of the game, and then made the next eight in row. He fin­ished 11 for 15. ... An­te­tok­oun­mpo air-balled his first free-throw at­tempt in the first quar­ter . ... Brog­don shot 0 for 5 in the first half and missed seven straight be­fore con­nect­ing late in the third. He fin­ished 2 for 11.

Rap­tors: Lowry scored 12 of Toronto’s first 17 points. He fin­ished 10 for 10 at the line . ... The Rap­tors are 4-0 on Tues­days in these play­offs . ... Toronto outscored Mil­wau­kee 28-6 on bench points in the first half. The Rap­tors fin­ished with a 48-23 ad­van­tage in bench scor­ing . ... Si­akam scored seven points, his low­est to­tal in these play­offs . ... Leonard had four of Toronto’s nine steals.

PROUD PAPA

Van­vleet be­came a fa­ther for the sec­ond time Mon­day with the birth of his first son, Fred Jr.

AT­TEN­TION HOG

Even when Leonard isn’t scor­ing 35, Lowry said the three-time All-star still helps with spac­ing.

“The great thing about hav­ing him on your team is he still gets all the at­ten­tion,” Lowry said. “That’s the ben­e­fit of hav­ing a su­per­star like him on the team.”

MANY TONGUES

Ibaka an­swered post-game questions in English, French, and Span­ish, and jok­ingly asked whether anyone wanted to talk to him in Ital­ian or Por­tuguese.

NATHAN DENETTE/AP

Toronto Rap­tors cen­ter Serge Ibaka bat­tles for the ball against Mil­wau­kee Bucks for­ward Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo dur­ing the sec­ond half of Game 4 of the NBA bas­ket­ball play­offs Eastern Con­fer­ence finals, Tues­day, May 21, 2019, in Toronto.

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