DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points and the Toronto Raptors squandered a 25-point lead late in the third quarter before holding on for a 92-89 victory Thursday night over the Milwaukee Bucks to take their first-round playoff series in six games.
Cory Joseph had five points in a 9-0 run in the final 2 minutes, including a 3-pointer with 1:27 left, to help stave off the pesky Bucks.
The Raptors move on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals in a series that starts Monday. They'll need to work on finishing off opponents in the second half.
Jason Terry's 3 with 3:06 left gave the Bucks an 80-78 lead, completing an unlikely comeback from the 25-point deficit with 5:16 left in the third quarter. The Raptors looked as if they were on cruise control after DeMarre Carroll's 3 gave them the 71-46 advantage.
Giannis Antetokounmpo spearheaded the second-half rally for Milwaukee. He had 34 points.
But the Bucks finished one comeback short.
The furious effort appeared to sap the energy of the young Bucks. Even Antetokounmpo, a renowned gym rat, looked tired with his hands on hips as he caught his breath during fourth-quarter breaks. He played 47 minutes.
Antetokounmpo finished 13 of 23 from the field but was 2 of 6 in the fourth.
The Raptors could finally breathe easy after DeRozan went 2 of 2 from the foul line with 3.1 seconds to play for a three-point lead. Tony Snell's inbounds pass on the ensuing possession was intercepted by DeRozan.
Rebounding from 2-1 series deficit and an embarrassing 27-point loss in Game 3, the Raptors will face Cleveland a year after losing to the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals in six games.
Kyle Lowry added 13 points for Toronto.
Raptors: Entering Thursday, Toronto was 0-4 all-time in Game 6s on the road, and 0-3 in coach Dwane Casey's six-year tenure with the team. That stretch started in 2014, when the Raptors lost a first-round series to the Brooklyn Nets, who were then coached by current Bucks coach Jason Kidd. ... DeRozan was 7 of 13 for a game-high 16 points in the first half. ... The Raptors lost three of four games to Cleveland in the regular season.
Bucks: Khris Middleton made the only 3 of the first half for Milwaukee, which missed its eight other shots from behind the arc. The Raptors outscored the Bucks 28-22 in the paint, negating Milwaukee's strength. ... The franchise hasn't won a playoff series since advancing to the Eastern Conference finals in 2001.