Fred VanVleet leads Toronto Raptors to impressive victory over Milwaukee Bucks | NBA.com Canada

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The losing streak continues for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Led by Fred VanVleet, who scored a team-high 33 points, the Toronto Raptors defeated the Bucks by a final score of 124-113.

Pascal Siakam chipped in with a 23-point, 13-rebound double-double while Chris Boucher came up big off the bench with 14 points, six rebounds and five blocks.

Giannis Antetokounmpo did everything for the Bucks, falling just shy of a triple-double with 34 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to go along with five steals and two blocks, but it wasn’t quite enough.

For more on the game, here are some takeaways at the buzzer…

1. Starting small

After missing 10 straight games with a left calf strain, OG Anunoby returned against the Bucks.

With Anunoby back, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse decided to start small with Kyle Lowry, VanVleet, Norman Powell, Siakam and Anunoby, moving Aron Baynes to the bench.

According to NBA.com, Lowry, VanVleet, Powell, Siakam and Anunoby entered the game having logged 29 minutes together on the season.

2. Welcome back, OG!

It didn’t take Anunoby long to make his presence felt in his return. He made his first 3-point attempt of the game and followed it up with a steal.

3. The midrange assassin

One thing that’s flown under the radar this season is VanVleet’s improvement as a pull-up shooter from midrange.

According to NBA.com, VanVleet made 28.8 percent of his 2-point pull-ups last season. Entering Tuesday’s game, he was up to 42.9 percent this season.

It’s doubly impressive considering VanVleet has already attempted more 2-point pull-ups this season (77) than he did all of last season (73).

VanVleet’s improvements were on full display early in this one, as two of his five made field goals in the first quarter were midrange pull-ups. It’s a useful weapon to have against the Bucks, who are giving up the fifth-most midrange shots in the league. Going under screens against VanVleet is no longer a viable option.

4. Moving on up

Congrats are in order.

With 4:37 remaining in the second quarter, Lowry pulled down his fourth rebound of the game. In the process, he moved into third place on the franchise’s all-time rebounding list, surpassing Antonio Davis (2,839).

The only players now ahead of Lowry are Jonas Valanciunas (3,961) and Chris Bosh (4,776).

According to TSN’s Josh Lewenberg, Lowry is the only active player in the NBA to rank top three on their current team’s all-time points, rebounds and assists.

Quite impressive.

5. The injury bug strikes again

Unfortunately for the Raptors, Lowry tweaked his left ankle in the closing seconds of the first half. He returned for the second half, but appeared to tweak it again early in the third quarter. He went to the locker room with 8:42 remaining in the period and didn’t return, with the Raptors announcing that Lowry had a sore left ankle.

6. A two-man show

Pat Connaughton had himself a first half.

Through two quarters of play, Connaughton led the Bucks in scoring with 18 points. He shot 7-for-10 from the field and 4-for-7 from 3-point range, all in 15 minutes of play.

He was getting it done from outside…

…and inside.

Connaughton also recorded three blocks in the first half, tying a career high. He and Antetokounmpo were the reason the Bucks were tied with the Raptors at the break.

Antetokounmpo had only 10 points following two quarters but had his hand in everything the Bucks were doing on both ends of the court, coming up with six rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block.

That one block came at the expense of Anunoby, who learned the hard way that it’s not easy dunking on a 6-foot-11 superhuman.

7. Another two-man show

The third quarter belonged to VanVleet and Antetokounmpo.

With Lowry out, VanVleet stepped up big for the Raptors, scoring 10 of the team’s 30 points in the period, as well as dishing out five of their seven assists. He played all but 49 seconds in the quarter.

Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, scored 15 of his game-high 34 points in the third. He started the quarter with a turnaround in the paint, followed by a pull-up 3 in transition. It was attack mode from then on.

VanVleet and Antetokounmpo going back-and-forth in the third set the table for a competitive fourth quarter.

8. Put it on spin cycle

Anunoby opened the fourth quarter with one of his sweetest drives of the season.

9. What’s next

The Raptors and Bucks meet again on Thursday (Feb. 18). The Raptors will then travel to Minnesota to play the Timberwolves on Friday (Feb. 19) before returning to Tampa to host the Philadelphia 76ers in a back-to-back on Sunday (Feb. 21) and Tuesday (Feb. 23).

Tuesday’s game was the first of eight straight at home for the Bucks. Their only remaining away game in the first half of the season is against the Memphis Grizzlies on March 4.

More takeaways to come…

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