MILWAUKEE — Midway through the fourth quarter, and with the Bucks gathering some steam, OG Anunoby bounced a gorgeous backwards pass to a cutting DeAndre Bembry for a highlight-reel dunk.
The play gave Toronto a 17-point lead and all but drained any life left from Milwaukee.
Whenever the Raptors needed a big play, they got one Thursday en route to a 110-96 victory and a sweep of their two-game mini-series in Milwaukee.
"My favorite (Anunoby) play is when he drove in there and flipped it kind of off his side to DeAndre cutting, so he had enough awareness to kind of slam on the brakes and find the cutter which was a big, big basket, big time of the game too," coach Nick Nurse said.
Norman Powell scored 29 points, while Pascal Siakam had 27. Fred VanVleet chipped in with 17 points and seven assists for the Raptors (14-15), who were missing all-star guard Kyle Lowry.
"Really important (win)," Powell said. "We didn't want any (series) splits, that's our motto going into back-to-back games when we're facing the same team. After you win the first one, teams are going to come out a little stronger, a little bit more aggressive against us, making adjustments, and I thought we did a great job of sustaining our defensive foundation in both games, executing the game plan really well.
"So it's definitely two big wins for us."
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 23 points and 12 rebounds in the slumping Bucks' (16-13) fifth consecutive loss -- the first time they'd lost five straight since early 2017.
If the Raptors were expecting some pushback after beating the Bucks 124-113 two nights earlier, it never really materialized. The Raptors broke the game open in the second, led by as many as 23 points in the third, and took an 85-72 advantage into the fourth.
The Bucks sliced the difference to 10 points midway through the fourth, but Siakam responded with a big three-point play, muscling past Antetokounmpo for a basket and foul shot.
Bembry's dunk from Anunoby came on Toronto's next possession.
Dante DiVincenzo's three pulled the Bucks to within 12, but that was as close as Milwaukee would come. Antetokounmpo fouled out of the game, plus picked up a Flagrant 1 for an elbow to Anunoby's face, with 1:19 to play.
Lowry, who had surgery on his left thumb after Toronto's 2019 championship run, suffered another thumb injury in the first quarter of Tuesday's win but stayed in the game until he rolled his ankle in the third quarter. Coach Nick Nurse said the Raptors planned to hold Lowry out of Friday's game at Minnesota as well, and then reassess the injury.
"Let's see, the severity of it," Nurse said. "It's not good, obviously, because he's not playing."
The Raptors recalled rookie guard Malachi Flynn, who'd played Thursday morning with the Raptors 905 in the G League bubble at Walt Disney World.
Powell had another hot start, scoring 15 points on 5-for-5 shooting in the opening quarter. Chris Boucher's slam dunk capped Toronto's 8-0 run to end the frame, and they took a 33-26 lead into the second quarter.
Toronto pestered the Bucks into committing seven turnovers -- for 13 points -- in the second quarter, and built a 20-point lead on a long Matt Thomas jumper, two minutes before the break. The Raptors were up 58-41 at halftime.
The Raptors extended their lead to 23 midway through the third, but a cutting dunk by Thanasis Antetokounmpo -- off a pass from his brother -- punctuated a Bucks 16-5 run that sliced the difference to 12 points.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2021.
The Canadian Press