While the Milwaukee Bucks have been dealt a pair of blows to their roster since last taking the court, the Toronto Raptors’ record continues to take hits.
The Raptors head to Milwaukee Monday night and will try to win for just the third time in 10 games while facing a Bucks team that can add a reserve point guard to a list of sidelined players.
The Raptors (26-14) have dropped seven of nine, including two straight after Sunday’s 95-93 home loss to New Orleans. Toronto lost for the first time this season when allowing fewer than 100 points after winning its first 15 such games. The consecutive losses have included a 13-of-50 mark from 3-point range and an average of 37.0 first-half points.
"We’re playing in mud right now," said Raptors coach Dwane Casey, whose team has dropped three straight on the road as it embarks on a three-game trip.
DeMar DeRozan scored a team-high 22 points, while Amir Johnson had 14 and 10 rebounds. DeRozan had been particularly strong in his first two games back from a torn abductor, averaging 22.5 points on 62.5 percent shooting, but he was 7 for 18 against the Pelicans.
Terrence Ross was limited to a season-low 11 minutes and was replaced in the starting lineup in the second half by Greivis Vasquez. Ross was held scoreless for the first time this season and is shooting 33.1 percent in the last 12 contests.
"We’ve just got to be there for him the best way we can, help lift him, just like we do everybody else," DeRozan told the team’s official website. "We’ve all been there, playing in this league, everybody’s been there in some type of way. We’ve just got to help him out the best way we can, and get him back on his feet. Once he gets rolling, it’s going to be something he definitely needed when he looks back at it."
The season series against Milwaukee started much better with a 124-82 home win on Nov. 21 to extend the Raptors’ winning streak in the series to five after 10 consecutive losses.
Kyle Lowry had 20 points and is averaging 22.3 on 52.4 percent in his last three games against the Bucks. DeRozan, though, had one of his worst games of the season, scoring 7 points on 1-of-8 shooting.
The Bucks (21-19) won’t have Kendall Marshall after learning he suffered a torn ACL in Thursday’s 95-79 win over New York in London and will miss the rest of the season.
"We’ll play the 11 that we have and we’ll go from there," coach Jason Kidd said. "Kendall brought a lot to the table for us, being able to anchor that second group, keep the ball moving and post up, too."
The team is already operating without rookie Jabari Parker – out for the season with the same injury – and center Larry Sanders. Milwaukee learned Friday that Sanders, who hasn’t played in the last 11 games, was suspended without pay for a minimum of 10 games for violating the NBA’s anti-drug program.
The Bucks are 7-4 in the games without Sanders thanks in large part to repeated strong defensive efforts, holding opponents to 86.7 points on 38.9 percent.
Offensively, O.J. Mayo remained hot against the Knicks with 22 points. He’s averaging 15.3 and shooting 59.0 percent in the last four games.