With Giannis sidelined, Bucks top Raptors, become last undefeated team in NBA
MILWAUKEE — With Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined because of injury, Ersan Ilyasova scored a season-high 19 points to help the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Toronto Raptors 124-109 on Monday night in a showdown of the NBA’s last two undefeated teams.
Milwaukee improved to 7-0 in a marquee matchup that lost some luster with Antetokounmpo in concussion protocol and Raptors star Kawhi Leonard sitting out to rest.
The Bucks’ start to the season matches the 1971-72 club for best in franchise history. Milwaukee made up for Antetokounmpo’s absence with another strong showing from the perimeter, with Malcolm Brogdon and Eric Bledsoe chipping in 17 points each.
Serge Ibaka scored 30 points for Toronto, which had its franchise-best 6-0 start snapped. Pascal Siakam added 22.
They still couldn’t keep up with the Bucks, who eclipsed the 110-point mark for the seventh straight game even without the high-flying Antetokounmpo, who averages 25.0 points and 14.2 rebounds.
Ilyasova, starting for Antetokounmpo, helped pick up the slack, setting the tone with an active night all over the floor and adding a team-high 10 rebounds.
The Bucks didn’t stop moving when they have the ball either, especially at the 3-point line.
First-year coach Mike Budenholzer wants his team to hoist 3-pointers, and an 11-3 run in the fourth quarter sparked by two 3s from Khris Middleton helped turn a 15-point advantage into a 113-90 lead with 7:39 left.
It was the first game in NBA history between teams that both enter with a record of 6-0 or better, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Bucks’ defense tightened after allowing the Raptors to start 12 of 17 (70 percent) from the floor with 2:37 left in the first quarter.
Toronto went on to shoot 31 percent from that point to the fourth quarter, when the Bucks’ lead swelled to 15.
Raptors: Leonard was expected to sit out just Monday’s game. … Toronto went about a four-minute stretch between the first and second quarters shooting 1 of 10 from the floor to fall behind by nine with 10:06 left in the second.
Bucks: Antetokounmpo was injured Saturday against Orlando. … Ilyasova (14 points) and Thon Maker (11) were active up front in the first half to help make up for the absence of Antetokounmpo, who cheered on his teammates one row behind the bench. … Asked what he was most surprised by in the Bucks’ fast start, Budenholzer said “I’m not a big surprise guy. I’m just happy with the way they’ve worked every day. It’s been a good steady work ethic.”
Raptors: Return home to host the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.
Bucks: Visit the Celtics on Thursday in rematch of first-round playoff series last year won by Boston in seven games.