Bucks rally from early 20 point deficit and beat Toronto to start road trip
TORONTO — Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders has made a name for himself as a shot blocker this season. Few have been as pivotal as the one he pulled off against Toronto on Sunday.
Brandon Jennings had 19 points and 10 assists, rookie John Henson scored 19 and the Bucks rallied from a 20-point first quarter deficit to beat Toronto 107-96, their eighth straight victory over the Raptors.
Sanders extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one block to 23 with a pair of rejected shots. His biggest, however, was a block on DeMar DeRozan’s layup attempt with 3:09 to play and the Bucks clinging to a 92-91 lead.
“He’s a flier,” Sanders said of DeRozan. “I just had to try and get the timing right.”
Sanders handed the ball to Jennings, who fed Mike Dunleavy for a key 3-pointer that gave the Bucks a four-point cushion.
“After that, we were looking good,” said Dunleavy, who called the block “tremendous.”
Sanders finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for the Bucks, who won for the 12th time in 15 meetings with the Raptors.
Monta Ellis scored 17 points and Dunleavy had 15 as the Bucks improved to 3-1 under new coach Jim Boylan.
Boylan said Sanders has undergone a defensive transformation in this, his third NBA season.
“From where he was just a few months ago to where is he now, I’ve never seen anybody make that sort of progress,” Boylan said. “Larry can do things that very few guys can do with his defensive ability. We’re fortunate to have him. In the fourth quarter I thought he was just phenomenal”
Amir Johnson had 22 points and 14 rebounds and Ed David had 20 and 12 for the Raptors, who led 32-12 early but lost their fifth straight home meeting with the Bucks.
DeRozan scored 23 points and Jose Calderon scored 15 of his 21 in Toronto’s big first quarter, but the Raptors couldn’t hold on, losing for the first time in three games.
“After the first quarter we went out of our defensive focus,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “I don’t know what it was, we let up.”
Henson’s hook shot with 6:54 to go gave Milwaukee its first lead of the fourth quarter at 87-86 and, after a three-second call on Toronto, Sanders followed by tipping in a missed shot from Ellis.
But after Sanders missed a pair of free throws with 4:23 left, Davis answered with a slam dunk, giving Toronto a 91-90 lead.
Jennings restored Milwaukee’s lead with two free throws before Sanders’ big block put the Bucks in control.
“He’s always making the big defensive stops for us,” Jennings said of Sanders, who came in leading the league with 3.3 blocks per game.
Ellis made a layup, Sanders made two free throws and a dunk and Milwaukee led 101-91 before Fields ended a 2:45 drought by making one of two from the line.
Calderon, who scored 10 first quarter points in Friday’s 99-78 win over Charlotte, was hot again to start this one. The Spanish guard hit six of seven field goal attempts in the first, including all three of his 3-point attempts, and poured in 15 points as Toronto opened a 34-16 lead after one.
Calderon left grimacing with four seconds remaining in the first and jogged back to the locker room for treatment on his right calf. With Calderon out, Milwaukee closed the gap with a 12-0 run to start the second quarter.
Calderon returned with 3:39 left in the half but the Bucks kept up the pressure, taking advantage of 10 Toronto turnovers. A fast break layup by Jennings tied at 47-all with 23 seconds left but two free throws by Quincy Acy gave the Raptors a narrow 49-47 edge at the intermission.
Johnson limped off with a sore right ankle with 1:02 left in the second, but both he and Calderon started the third for Toronto. DeRozan scored 10 points as the Raptors reclaimed the advantage and took a 78-74 lead into the fourth.
Henson scored a career-high 20 points against San Antonio on Jan. 2. … Milwaukee’s bench outscored Toronto’s 43-7. … This was the first of a four-game road trip for Milwaukee. The three remaining games are at the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix and Portland. … Toronto is 0-17 when surrendering 100 points or more.