No Giannis Antetokounmpo? No problem?
The Milwaukee Bucks found out Monday afternoon their superstar forward had been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol and would not be playing Monday night when they took on the also-unbeaten Toronto Raptors.
Rather then fret, the Bucks did what they’ve been doing all season. They “Let it Fly.”
Receiving contributions from fill-ins and starters galore, the Bucks tied a team record with 19 3-pointers on the way to a 124-109 victory Monday night at the Fiserv Forum.
The Raptors, who entered the game with a 6-0 record that matched Milwaukee’s, played without their own star Kawhi Leonard. The two-time defensive player of the year had averaged 35 minutes a game through five games and was deemed in need of rest after having missed 72 games a year ago with a mysterious thigh injury with the San Antonio Spurs. The Raptors acquired Leonard in the biggest trade of the off-season, sending all-star DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs.
The Bucks made 8 of 24 3-pointers in the first half to build 62-53 lead.
They made five more in the third period and six triples in the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter before missing their final six attempts.
Ersan Ilyasova led seven Bucks in double figures with 19 points, including 3-of-6 shooting from behind the arc. Ilyasova also added a team-high 10 rebounds. Nine players scored at least eight points for Milwaukee.
Guards Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon each added 17, and Khris Middleton had 14 on an off night. Middleton did not make a 2-point field goal but hit three 3-pointers in a row in the fourth quarter as the Bucks pulled away. Middleton finished 4 of 9 on 3-pointers.
Milwaukee finished 19 of 45 on 3-pointers, missing their final six attempts to get the team record.
Tony Snell went 3 for 3 behind the arc, and Bledsoe, Donte DiVincenzo, Thon Maker and Pat Connaughton each made two 2-pointers.
The Bucks tied the franchise record 7-0 start set by the 1971-’72 season team. They’ll try to set a new mark Thursday night in Boston when they take on the Celtics, the team that eliminated them in a seven-game series in the first round of the playoffs last spring.
The Bucks led by as many as 25 — the last time at 122-97 on Bledsoe’s 3-point play with 4:29 left. Milwaukee tallied just two free throws the rest of the way as Toronto closed with a meaningless 12-2 run to make the final score closer.
Serge Ibaka led Toronto with 30 points and nine rebounds.
The Bucks outrebounded the Raptors, 58-51, and have won the battle of the boards in all seven games.
In their last three games, the Bucks have built leads of 34, 30 and 25 points. They’ve won their last six by double digits after winning, 113-112, in the season opener at Charlotte. The Bucks built a 20-point lead in that game before holding off a Charlotte rally.