In a stunning display of skill and teamwork, the Milwaukee Bucks, led by the remarkable efforts of Damian Lillard, clinched a commanding 128-112 victory over the Toronto Raptors in Wednesday's NBA face-off, despite the absence of their star player, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Lillard, notching a season-high of 37 points along with 13 assists, and Malik Beasley, scoring a personal season-high of 30 points, were the linchpins in the Bucks' triumph. Lillard, embracing the mantle of leadership in Giannis's absence, said, "With Giannis not playing I knew I would have to step up, be more aggressive, and really assert myself in terms of playmaking and scoring." Antetokounmpo missed his first game of the season due to a strained right calf, a break after a solid start with an average of 29.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.6 assists over the first 10 games.
Bucks' Long-Range Mastery
The Bucks, who avenged an earlier loss to the Raptors, showcased a formidable long-range game, tying a season-high with 20 successful shots from beyond the arc. Lillard contributed four of those 3-pointers, while Beasley was particularly effective, going 8 for 11 from deep.
Bucks coach Adrian Griffin praised Beasley's performance, noting his timely shots and calling him "an unbelievable shooter." Supporting the Bucks' offensive onslaught were Bobby Portis with 18 points and Cameron Payne adding 13.
Brook Lopez, speaking of Lillard's performance, remarked, "That’s the Dame we all know. It was great to see him in a good rhythm, comfortable out there and leading the team." The game also saw Bucks guard MarJon Beauchamp exit early due to a sprained right ankle after contributing four points in 10 minutes.
For the Raptors, Scottie Barnes led with 29 points, while Jakob Poeltl managed a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. This victory is particularly significant for the Bucks, marking their second win since Lillard's return after a brief absence due to a sore right calf.
Coach Griffin lauded Lillard's game management, saying, "He took control of the game early... He’s a master at picking his spots and navigating through screens." Despite a spirited effort from Toronto, including a recent comeback win against Washington, the Raptors struggled to close the gap against Milwaukee's robust performance.
Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic commented on the need for more energy from the starting players, as the team once again found itself trailing by over 20 points during the game. This match cements the Bucks' resilience and ability to adapt in the absence of key players, setting a high bar for their forthcoming games in the season.