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Raptors defeat Bucks to extend winning streak

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TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors finished a franchise-record seven-game homestand on Friday night by nearly setting another record.

Led by 22 points from reserve guard Lou Williams, they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 124-83 to fall one short of the team record of 42 for the winning margin of victory.

The Raptors finished their homestand with a three-game winning streak and a 6-1 record and are 10-2 overall to lead the Eastern Conference.

The Raptors have played only three games on the road, where they are 2-1.

“I thought our mental focus was great,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “Nobody in that locker room was even talking about (when they play at Cleveland). If we’re going to be an elite team, or grow to be an elite team in this league, we have to make sure we take care of business and take care of what’s in front of us.”

The Bucks (7-6) had won three in a row before meeting the Raptors. The Raptors shot 52.3 percent from the field and the Bucks shot 36.5 percent.

It was a forgettable game for the Bucks and they will quickly try to push it aside.

“Usually you just throw it away,” Bucks forward Jared Dudley said. “They just came out from the jump. We can’t make excuses tonight, that’s why they’re the best in the East. You’ve got to tip your hat to them. They embarrassed us. Early on we were a little sluggish. They came out and executed.”

Point guard Kyle Lowry added 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and center Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Raptors. Forward Terrence Ross contributed 13 points to the rout and reserve guard Greivis Vasquez chipped in with 11.

“This is a game we had to focus on,” Lowry said. “They’re a tough team over there, playing extremely well. They’re fourth in the East so we had to take the initiative and play our game tonight. We established ourselves physically inside and we made shots and we moved the ball well. Everyone got comfortable and made some shots tonight. The overall team was in a groove.”

As for the homestand, Lowry said, “We had an opportunity to take advantage of the opportunity that we had and I think we took great advantage of it.”

Forward Jabari Parker led the Bucks with 15 points, forward Ersan Ilyasova added 14, guard Brandon Knight had 11 and center Larry Sanders contributed eight.

The Raptors increased a 26-point halftime lead to 32 when they scored the first six points of the third quarter.

They led 94-41 with 4:21 to play in the third quarter after Lowry hit two 3-pointers in a row followed by another 3 by Ross.

When Williams hit three free throws with 11.6 seconds left in the third quarter, the Raptors led by 45 points, the largest lead in franchise history during a game. The previous mark had been 43.

Parker made one of two free throws at the end of the third quarter, which finished with the Raptors leading 101-57.

Raptors rookie forward Bruno Caboclo, a Brazilian drafted in the first round this year, put in his first NBA minutes early in the fourth quarter and quickly put up eight points that included two 3-pointers.

“In that last quarter, we were just trying to win that quarter and try to build for tomorrow,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said.

The Bucks won the fourth quarter 26-23 but that is about all.

The Raptors led by as many as 17 points during the first quarter but needed a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Williams to take a 37-27 lead into the second quarter. Valanciunas had 12 points and five rebounds in the first quarter.

Williams made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Raptors a 71-45 halftime lead.

Williams led all scorers with 16 points in the first half on 6-for-12 shooting from the field.

The Raptors shot 52.1 percent from the floor in the first half and the Bucks shot 42.9 percent.

NOTES: Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo (right ankle sprain) played despite being announced at game time as being out. He participated in the morning shootaround after he was injured in the second overtime of the Bucks’ 122-118 triple-overtime victory at Brooklyn on Wednesday. … Raptors F James Johnson (right ankle sprain) missed his second straight game. … F Tyler Hansbrough (right shoulder sprain) also did not play for the Raptors. He was injured on Wednesday but was able to continue. … The Raptors won all four games between the teams last season. … With the 96-92 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, Dwane Casey has moved into second place among Raptors coaches with 114 wins. Sam Mitchell ranks first at 156. … The Raptors ‘next game is Saturday at the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bucks are home to face the Washington Wizards on Saturday.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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