Los Angeles: Brook Lopez scored 29 points as the Milwaukee Bucks staged a late rally to defeat the Toronto Raptors 108-100 in the opening game of their NBA Eastern Conference finals clash on Wednesday.
Lopez helped spark a run of 10 unanswered points in the final three minutes as the Bucks fought back from 100-98 down to claim a crucial victory in front of their home fans at the Fiserv Forum.
Two free throws from Kawhi Leonard had nudged Toronto into a 100-98 lead as the clock wound down on a pulsating opening instalment of the best-of-seven series.
But a Lopez dunk gave the Bucks a 101-100 lead and then a three-pointer from the towering 31-year-old took Milwaukee four points clear.
Two free throws apiece from Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton completed the scoring as the Bucks pulled away to win.
“It was a complete team effort,” said Lopez, who finished with 11 rebounds and two assists. “We’d been playing with good energy the whole game but shots weren’t going down for us. So we knew we just had to keep grinding, which is what we’ve been doing all season long,” Lopez added.
“We’ve learned never to hang our heads, never give up, and we haven’t all season. They hit us, but we stuck with it and stuck together as a team.”
Lopez was backed by 24 points from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who also hauled down 14 rebounds with six assists.
Khris Middleton had 11 points with 11 rebounds while Malcolm Brogdon delivered a vital 15 points from the bench.