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Bucks take down Raptors, further establish Eastern Conference supremacy

The Milwaukee Bucks took the early punch. Staggered by the suffocating defense of the Toronto Raptors and barraged by three-pointer after three-pointer, the Bucks found themselves in a 12-point hole late in the second quarter.

In the same building where their playoff run finished in the Eastern Conference finals last year, the Bucks again were struggling and looked to be at a loss for how to stem the tide.

But then, the answers came. First, their three-pointers started falling, then their defense turned up a few notches. A double-digit deficit dwindled to just two at halftime. They kept rolling out of halftime, with their offense demonstrating more crispness and composure, Khris Middleton coming alive and their defense putting the clamps on the Raptors.

From what looked like a rock bottom, the Bucks sprang to life and never looked back, defeating the Raptors, 108-97, Tuesday night at Scotiabank Arena for their best road win of many this season, one that continued a four-game win streak out of the all-star break and served as some small measure of vengeance for what happened last spring.

“I mean, you have bad memories in this place and you come in, I mean, it’s kind of habit to let those thoughts creep back into your mind,” Middleton said. “But I thought we did a great job just settling down and focusing on play by play, possession by possession.”

It was a great victory, probably the Bucks’ best road victory of the season and in the running for their most impressive win of the season.

Yet, the locker room was generally subdued afterward. Williams, just a few weeks into his Bucks tenure, has been struck by how relaxed his new teammates have been and Tuesday night was no different.

The Bucks have bigger goals and if they learned anything from past trips north of the border, it’s that the celebrating is better done in the spring.

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