Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) drives into Milwaukee Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova (77) during the second half of Game 3 NBA Eastern Conference finals basketball action in Toronto on Sunday, May 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) drives into Milwaukee Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova (77) during the second half of Game 3 NBA Eastern Conference finals basketball action in Toronto on Sunday, May 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

TORONTO — Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points to lift the Raptors to a 118-112 thrilling double-overtime victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, throwing Toronto a lifeline in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Raptors trail Milwaukee 2-1 in the best-of-seven series heading into Tuesday’s Game 4.

Pascal Siakam had 25 points and 11 rebounds, Marc Gasol bounced back from a horrible Game 2 to score 16 points and grab 12 rebounds, and Norman Powell scored 19 points off the bench.

Game 4 is Tuesday in Toronto, then the series shifts to Milwaukee for Game 5.

Kyle Lowry, playing with a taped sprained left thumb, had 11 points, five assists and four rebounds before fouling out midway though the fourth quarter.

Danny Green, one of the team’s top shooters in the regular season, had just three points on 1-for-9 shooting, but played a huge role on the defensive end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 12 points and 23 rebounds before fouling out in the second overtime period. George Hill had 24 points to top the Bucks.

The Raptors led for most of the night, going up by double digits in the first quarter and responding to every Bucks run. But they managed just nine points in the third quarter, and when Hill hit a floater with 12.7 seconds left in the frame, the Bucks pulled to within 77-75 with one quarter left to play.

But if there was any angst creeping into the Scotiabank Arena crowd, Lowry and Leonard had the fans roaring with back to back three-pointers that had the Raptors ahead by eight with 9:05 to play. Five straight points by Antetokounmpo pulled the Bucks within four, but when the “Greek Freak,” who’s the front-runner to win the season’s MVP award, missed badly on a free throw, the crowd chanted “Air ball!”

A frustrated Lowry fouled out with 6:12 to play, and the Bucks, who hadn’t led since 2-0, scored five straight points to pull even two minutes later. Fred VanVleet and Hill traded threes, then Leonard connected from 16 feet and the Raptors clutched a two-point lead going into the final two minutes.

Malcolm Brogdon’s basket with 38 seconds left pulled the Bucks to within two points. Siakam missed two free throws with 7.4 seconds left prompting groans from the Scotiabank Arena crowd that included rappers Drake and Gucci Mane, actor Mike Myers, former UFC champion Georges St-Pierre, Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, Nashville Predators defenceman P.K. Subban and Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner.

Khris Middleton scored with 2.2 seconds to play. There were no end-of-regulation heroics this time for Toronto as Siakam missed on a long jumper to send the game into overtime.

Green’s three with 3:32 left in the first overtime, his first make of the game, had Toronto up by three. Baskets by Siakam and Leonard gave Toronto a four-point cushion before Brogdon, with a basket, and Hill, with two free throws, tied it up with 14.5 seconds to play. Leonard’s basket at the buzzer bounced off the rim, sending it to double OT.

Antetokounmpo fouled out with 4:24 left in the second OT. A Gasol three and Leonard dunk off a Green steal had the Raptors up by three. Then, leading by a point, Leonard had a steal and dunk and it was a two-point game with a minute to play. A big Siakam block led to a Leonard basket, the Bucks turned over the ball and it was game over.

Despite pre-game talk of changes to Toronto’s starting lineup, Nick Nurse stuck with his same five. It proved to be a smart choice, as Gasol, who struggled mightily in Game 2 and shot just 2-for-9 from deep through the first two games, connected on his first two three-point shots. The Raptors raced out to an early 11-point lead and took a 30-21 advantage into the second.

The Bucks pulled to within three points midway through the second, but a Lowry three-pointer capped a 12-4 Raptors run that restored the Raptors’ 11-point cushion. Serge Ibaka hit a three-pointer with 1.1 on the clock to send Toronto into the halftime break up 58-51.

RELATED: Bucks hammer Raptors 125-103 to take 2-0 playoff series lead

The emergence of Powell, who had 14 points in Game 2, is good news for the Raptors, whose bench has been terrible throughout the post-season.

“He’s just been good at both ends,” Nurse said before the game. ”I think it’s just a type of game that it is and the type of player he is. He’s fast, he’s athletic, he’s played aggressive. When the ball has swung around to him, he vaults up like he’s going to make them. There’s no hesitancy there, and he knocks them down.”

The Raptors dropped a narrow 108-100 decision in Game 1, leading for 37 minutes before falling apart in the fourth quarter. In Game 2, they were destroyed virtually from the opening tipoff, falling behind 9-0 in the first two minutes and trailing by as much as 28 points en route to a 125-103 loss.

A loss would have been a horrible result for Toronto. Historically, teams that have led 2-0 went on to win seven-game series 94 per cent of the time. But of the exceptions: the Cleveland Cavaliers trailed Boston 0-2 in last year’s Eastern Conference finals before winning the series.

The Raptors have never won a series after falling behind 0-2, but have twice tied up the series, in 2016 against Cleveland and 2002 versus Detroit.

Awaiting the winner is either the Golden State Warriors or Portland Trail Blazers. The Warriors can sweep Portland with a victory on Monday, giving them more than a week’s rest before the NBA Finals tip off.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

NBA

Just Posted

Kenny Podmore, here seen at Sidney’s cenotaph in November, says he feels for the veterans after organizers had to cancel an event acknowledging Victory in Europe (VE) Day for the second time in as many years because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich event marking 75th anniversary of VE-Day cancelled

Sidney resident first planned event for May 9, 2020 moved to May 8 before being cancelled

Individuals and businesses are encouraged to bring their unwanted electronics to Tillicum Centre May 14 to be shredded, recycled or donated. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria residents can shred, donate electronics safely

Vancouver Island Better Business Bureau hosts event May 14 at Tillicum Centre

Scheduling popular summer events like the Canada Day celebrations is difficult due to the pandemic. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke summer events schedule clouded by COVID

Public health guidelines hamper plans

The District of Sooke is looking at new plans to build a fenced dog park at Ponds Park Corridor. (Pixabay.com)
Sooke seeks input on dog park

Public comment welcomed until June 4

Sooke RCMP are asking for the public’s help in finding Jeremy Tinnion after he was last seen in leaving a Sooke shelter on May 13. (Photo courtesy of Sooke RCMP)
MISSING: Jeremy Tinnion last seen in Sooke on May 13

The 31-year-old was last seen by staff members as he was leaving an Otter Point Road shelter

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
MISSING: Salt Spring RCMP find woman’s car, still seek Island resident

Sinikka Gay Elliott is 5’3” with a slim build and dark brown short hair

A Saanich man received almost 10 years in Supreme Court in Courtenay for a shooting incident from 2018. Record file photo
Shooting incident on Island nets almost 10-year sentence

Saanich man was arrested without incident north of Courtenay in 2018

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Most Read