Raptors get past Bucks to win second straight

BY foxsports • March 26, 2009

The Milwaukee Bucks sure aren't playing like their playoff chances are at stake.

Andrea Bargnani scored 23 points, Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon had double-doubles and the Toronto Raptors beat the Bucks 115-106 on Wednesday night.

"Right now, when we need to be playing our best basketball, our most competitive, we're not," Milwaukee's Richard Jefferson said. "We're playing subpar basketball at a time when teams are picking it up. Even some of the teams that might not be in the hunt are picking up their intensity and we haven't done that the last couple of weeks."

Coach Scott Skiles can't understand why his players haven't grasped the need for more urgency and energy.

"We've covered the stuff ad nauseam, as much if not more so than any other team in the league," Skiles said. "I'm absolutely positive of that. The game started and we were behind their actions, we weren't in front of them, we weren't anticipating what was going on."

Milwaukee has dropped from eighth to 10th in the Eastern Conference since losing leading-scorer Michael Redd to a season-ending knee injury and center Andrew Bogut to a sore back. Bogut will be reevaluated next week.

"We've been through a lot this season and we're glad to have something to be fighting for at this point in time but that's not good enough," Jefferson said. "Our expectations are high and we have to play like that."

Bosh had 18 points and 14 rebounds, Calderon added 19 points and 11 assists to help the Raptors win consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 22-24. Shawn Marion scored 17 points, Anthony Parker had 15 and Jason Kapono 14.

Toronto set season-highs by making 12 3-pointers, including six in a game-changing second quarter, and by going 35-for-40 at the free-throw line. Bargnani, Calderon, Kapono and Parker all finished with three 3s.

"Our first unit had great difficulty getting any sort of consistent stops," Skiles said. "We were just a step slow and when we're a step slow like that we generally foul a lot and give up free throws."

Jefferson shook off a recent shooting slump, going 10-for-18 and scoring 22 points for the Bucks, who lost their third straight. Charlie Bell scored 20 points and Ramon Sessions had 18.

Toronto led 94-71 after three but Milwaukee made seven 3-pointers in the fourth to claw its way back, with Damon Jones' 3 cutting it to 113-106 with 48 seconds left. But Calderon made two free throws and Jones' next shot was blocked, allowing Toronto to run out the clock.

"We kept our composure and made our free throws, got a couple of stops when we needed them and sealed the deal," Bosh said.

Milwaukee's Charlie Villanueva came in averaging 17.0 points and 7.9 rebounds in nine games against his former team but was a non-factor in this one, shooting 4-for-11 and scoring eight points.

"It wasn't a good game for him," Skiles said. "He didn't have the same energy he's had in some other games. He just looked a little bit slow changing ends and in his reactions out there tonight."

Milwaukee matched a season-high with 13 3-pointers but still lost the opener of a four-game road trip. The Bucks are 2-8 in March.

"It's just going to get tougher for us," Villanueva said. "The more we lose, the tougher it gets."

All 13 3-pointers came from Milwaukee's bench players, including four each by Bell and Damon Jones. But while their outside shots were falling, the Bucks weren't getting to the line, finishing just 7-for-9.

Jefferson came in having shot just 15-for-43 in his previous three games but started hot in this one, going 5-for-7 in the first and scoring 12 points. Calderon replied with nine for Toronto as the Raptors led 25-20 after one.

Toronto pulled away with a 3-point barrage in the second, making six of eight from beyond the arc to lead 65-44 at the half. Toronto also went 12-for-13 from the line and set a season-high for points in a quarter.

"We were getting a lot of open looks but we were passing and moving the ball, too," Bosh said. "Sometimes that builds momentum. When everybody is touching the ball you shoot it a little better, you have more confidence and you play defense a little harder."

Marion picked up two blocks on one third quarter possession, denying Jefferson for the first and Villanueva for the second.

Bargnani returned to the lineup after missing Sunday's home victory over the Los Angeles Clippers with a sore left heel. The absence ended his consecutive games streak at 130.

Milwaukee guard Luke Ridnour did not accompany the team to Toronto after developing a sore back during Monday's practice. He could return Friday when the Bucks visit Orlando.


Toronto shot 12-for-23 from 3-point range while Milwaukee finished 13-for-26. ... Skiles was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame on Wednesday along with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich and University of New Mexico coach Steve Alford. Skiles sent a video message to be played at the ceremony. ... Toronto center Pops Mensah-Bonsu (sore right knee) was inactive. ... Raptors center Nathan Jawai rejoined the team after being recalled from the D-League on Monday.

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