Kawhi Leonard couldn’t match Giannis Antetokounmpo point for point. He didn’t have to.
Leonard scored 30 points and got the help of three teammates with more than 20 points, as the Toronto Raptors tightened up the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a 123-116 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night at Fiserv Forum.
Pascal Siacam added a career-high 30 points for the Raptors, including huge 3-pointers in a 15-2 run midway through the fourth quarter that gave Toronto control.
Antetokounmpo scored 43 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, but no other Bucks player could add more than 15 points. Antetokounmpo’s 3-pointer capped an early fourth quarter rally and gave the Bucks a 96-95 lead with 8:12 left.
Over the next three minutes, the Raptors got 3-pointers from Danny Green, Fred VanVleet and Siakam, with Siakam’s capping a 15-2 run. During that time, the Bucks missed the three 3-pointers they tried.
Siakam’s three from the corner gave the Raptors a 110-98 lead with 5:12 left, and the Bucks didn’t get closer than the final margin of seven the rest of the way.
Serge Ibaka added 25 points, and VanVleet added 21, as Toronto improved to 29-12 at its midway point of the season.
The Bucks (27-11) got 15 points from Malcolm Brogdon and 14 each from Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton.
The Bucks are actually a half-game behind the Raptors but have a better winning percentage. Milwaukee had a five-game winning streak snapped.
The Raptors won despite starters Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas sitting out with injuries. Raptors coach Nick Nurse relied heavily on his starting five, which accounted for 118 of Toronto’s 123 points. Danny Green chipped in 12 points, as Toronto’s starting five made 13 of 22 3-pointers.
The Bucks had an opportunity to clinch the season series, having won the first two games. The series will conclude in Toronto on Jan. 31.
How close were the two teams matched up? Both teams made 14 3-pointers, both teams grabbed four offensive rebounds and 38 total rebounds. The Bucks had 29 assists to the Raptors’ 28. The Raptors shot 51.2%, the Bucks 49.4%.
The only noticeable edge the Raptors had came by forcing 16 turnovers and committing just 11. Those five possessions proved big.
The Raptors scored the last seven points of the first half and the first seven of the second half, a 14-0 run that turned a 57-49 deficit into a 63-57 lead. Toronto pushed the lead to 76-64 on a Siakam 3-pointer.
Sterling Brown and George Hill hit 3-pointers in an 8-0 run that got the Bucks within 83-79, but 3-pointers by Siakam and VanVleet pushed Toronto to a 91-82 lead entering the fourth.
Antetokounmpo asserted himself early in the fourth quarter. He hit a 3-pointer to get the Bucks rolling, and his second triple gave the Bucks their short-lived 96-95 lead with 8:12 left before the Raptors went on their winning run. Antetokounmpo added a third 3-pointer in the final minute, making him 3 for 5 on threes for the game.