Bucks shut down Raptors with stifling defense to bounce back with dominant Game 3 win
Khris Middleton goes through the legs of Serge Ibaka to keep possession. AP

THE Milwaukee Bucks used its length and athleticism to full advantage in a suffocating defensive outing against the Toronto Raptors, 104-77, to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round series in the 2017 NBA Playoffs at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Thursday (Friday, Manila time).

The Bucks started out strong, shooting 67% percent in a dominant first quarter to lead by 20 in the period, 32-12. Milwaukee’s particularly locked down on Toronto’s gunners Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, with the latter scoring his first points at the stripe after the halfway point of the second period with the Bucks already comfortably ahead by 31.

Milwaukee extended the lead to 34 near the end of the third quarter, while Toronto struggled for form against the Bucks stifling defense. DeRozan was held without a field goal after three quarters and he combined with Kyle Lowry for only 18 points on a miserable 3-of-17 shooting from the field in that span.

The Raptors started the fourth with a 15-6 run to cut the gap to 23 but the Bucks’ 9-2 counter took the lead back to 30, 93-63, halfway through the period. Both teams fielded their reserves at that point and the Bucks remained firmly in control the rest of the way.

The Bucks held the Raptors to just 33% from the field and 27% from beyond the arc, while shooting over 52% from inside and in rainbow country in a dominant show of force on both ends of the floor.

Khris Middleton led Milwaukee with 20 points and seven assists, while Giannis Antetokounmpo powered the defense with two steals and two blocks to go with 19 markers, eight rebounds and four dimes.

Greg Monroe and Michael Beasley also scored 16 and 13 points, respectively, off the bench for the Bucks.

Lowry and Delon Wright finished with 13 points apiece for Toronto. Norman Powell added 12 markers off the bench and Jonas Valanciunas scored 11. DeRozan went 0-of-8 from the field but ended up with eight points. 

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