MVP candidate and Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was named on the NBA All-Defensive First Team on Wednesday.

The selection, made by a global panel of 100 sports writers and broadcasters, was announced by the league, with Antetokounmpo joined by team-mate Eric Bledsoe.

Giannis had 193 points – including 94 First Team votes – while Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert received 196 points, the most of any player in the NBA.

Marcus Smart and Paul George, along with Bledsoe, completed the First Team.

Antetokounmpo, Gobert and George are all also finalists for the 2018-19 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

Jrue Holiday, Klay Thompson, Joel Embiid, Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard made the Second Team.

Cleveland finally got the call for the NFL Draft, while Kansas City will also host the event in the coming years.

The NFL announced on Wednesday that Cleveland will hold the 86th Draft in 2021, while Kansas City will get their turn two years later. A site has not been set for 2022.

Both cities had been finalists to host in 2020 before the honour went to Las Vegas ahead of the Raiders' first season in their new city.

"Cleveland has a passionate fan base and the city offers distinctive iconic locations and attractions that will bring the NFL Draft experience to fans in unique and exciting ways," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.

"We look forward to collaborating with the Cleveland Browns, the City of Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Destination Cleveland to celebrate the achievements of the next generation of players and create a memorable fan experience.

"We are excited to work with the Kansas City Chiefs, the City of Kansas City, and the Kansas City Sports Commission to showcase the area for a week-long celebration of football that will be watched by millions of fans.

"We know Chiefs fans will come out to celebrate along with thousands of fans from teams around the country for an incredible experience as we welcome the next generation of NFL players."

A record-breaking 600,000 people visited Nashville to attend the 2019 Draft last month, while an average of 6.1 million viewers were tuned in at any given time for another all-time high.

Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc will "give it everything" to end Ferrari's wait for a win at the Monaco Grand Prix this week.

Leclerc joined the Scuderia ahead of the 2019 season and has shown signs of promise, yet he is still to taste victory in Formula One, with Mercedes dominant this term.

The Silver Arrows have registered five consecutive one-twos, but Leclerc, at his home grand prix, sees no better time to halt the drought for both himself and Ferrari.

"A home grand prix is always a special weekend and even more this weekend, obviously, coming here in full red with Ferrari," he said.

"We also have the chance to have a very good result, so we will push.

"Obviously we've had a difficult start to the season. The low-speed corners weren't great in Barcelona, but normally Monaco is pretty different.

"We will try to turn things round. It's not going to be easy but we will give it everything."

On the feeling of being back in his home city, Leclerc added: "It's great to have a weekend at home. It's a city that I've been growing up in and it's a huge honour for me to be driving in these streets.

"It's actually pretty weird because these are the same streets I've taken on the bus going to school when I was five or six years old. To take them in a Formula One car feels special."

Dry conditions are forecast in Monte Carlo, yet Leclerc is holding out hope for some rain to potentially turn an unpredictable race in Ferrari's favour.

"Monaco is already quite a lottery in the dry, so I think the rain will add a little bit more of that so it can go in either way," he said. "It should be exciting if it rains.

"Whether it will help us or not, I don't really know. But I would like it to rain, actually, for qualifying to change things a little bit."

Two-time Geneva Open champion Stan Wawrinka was upset in the last 16 on Wednesday, while 2018 winner Marton Fucsovics also came unstuck.

Swiss star Wawrinka won in both 2016 and 2017 before losing to eventual champion Fucsovics in the quarter-finals last time out.

But the duo suffered an earlier exit this year as second seed Wawrinka was stunned by Damir Dzumhur and Fucsovics, seeded fourth, fell well short against Federico Delbonis.

Wawrinka won the opening set against Dzumhur before going down 3-6 6-3 6-4, with the Bosnian now set to face Radu Albot.

Elsewhere in the draw, third seed Cristian Garin lost in three sets to Taro Daniel.

The favourites fared much better in Lyon, where Nikoloz Basilashvili, Roberto Bautista Agut and Denis Shapovalov all advanced.

Although Richard Gasquet retired, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Benoit Paire at least ensured there was some French representation in the last eight.

Tsonga was taken the distance in a 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 win over Steven Diez, while Paire enjoyed a much more straightforward 6-4 6-3 triumph over Pablo Cuevas.

Elia Viviani's frustrating 2019 Giro d'Italia came to an end after he and stage 11 winner Caleb Ewan withdrew on Wednesday.

Deceuninck-Quick Step rider Viviani won four stages en route to a points classification victory in the first Grand Tour of the 2018 season, but he could not repeat his feat 12 months later.

The Italian finished in second place on three occasions this year, before he was kept off the podium in a late sprint on Wednesday.

Viviani dropped out ahead of a stretch in which sprinters will find conditions less favourable, yet he hinted that results might have impacted his decision.

"I'm sorry because it would have been nice to win with the tricolore jersey here," he said. "I'm not angry but I'm disappointed, as is normal when you don't achieve your goals.

"My Giro ends today. If I had won, maybe the decision would have been different."

Ewan won in Novi Ligure, his second triumph of the race, but he also withdrew.

"I am happy that I came to the Giro," he said. "The succession of the long and sometimes challenging stages will have done me good, condition wise.

"Of course, I am going home with a great feeling. I came into the Giro and I really wanted to win one stage. To get two is more than I expected, so I am really satisfied with that and I am happy with how the team rode as well."

He added: "I think it makes sense that the sprinters leave the Giro prematurely. From now on, there are virtually only tough stages left, so not very suited to us.

"I think that the organisation prefers to have to best sprinters at the start. Although they do not finish the Giro, it still guarantees some nice battles in the flat stages."

Second seed Aryna Sabalenka set up an Internationaux de Strasbourg quarter-final against Monica Puig after cruising through the round of 16.

Sabalenka, the highest seed in the tournament following Ashleigh Barty's withdrawal, defeated Laura Siegemund 6-4 6-3 on Wednesday to advance in France. Puig saw off Astra Sharma and is up next.

Daria Gavrilova had enjoyed a relaxed day on Tuesday as compatriot Barty withdrew and rain intervened before a match with lucky loser Diana Marcinkevica.

But Gavrilova was required to make up for lost time as the action resumed, playing two matches in one day.

Marcinkevica was beaten in straight sets, before a trickier test against Amandine Hesse saw Gavrilova battle back to reach the last eight with a 4-6 6-2 7-5 win.

Meanwhile, fourth seed Caroline Garcia was required to finish her match with Shelby Rogers – winning the decider 6-3 - before facing Rebecca Peterson, a match she won in straight sets.

Dayana Yastremska raced through, thrashing two-time champion Sam Stosur, while Wang Qiang and Zheng Saisai crashed out.

At the Nuremberg Cup, defending champion Johanna Larsson let an early lead slip to go out to second seed Katerina Siniakova, as both also played twice in a day.

Yulia Putintseva won in straight sets, yet Ajla Tomljanovic was among four seeds to lose.

Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton was excused from media duties at the Monaco Grand Prix on Wednesday following the death of friend Niki Lauda.

Lauda, a three-time champion, served as Mercedes' non-executive chairman from 2012 but passed away at the age of 70 on Monday.

Hamilton posted a social media tribute to Lauda, describing him as "a bright light in my life", and did not appear alongside his fellow drivers at a news conference in Monte Carlo.

The Briton had been set to join Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Robert Kubica in front of the media, but a widely circulated Mercedes statement explained his absence.

"We asked for Lewis to be excused following Niki's death," a team spokesperson said on Wednesday.

"We ask for your understanding in the circumstances that Lewis lost a very close friend in Niki fewer than two days ago."

Team-mate and drivers' championship rival Valtteri Bottas instead took the microphone and paid tribute to Lauda.

"He was a massive motivation for everyone," he said. "For myself as well, for sure, as a driver because of everything he achieved and with the difficult career he had and all the comebacks and everything.

"But also as a person, it's been great and I will never forget many, many good moments.

"For sure, it's not nice in terms of mindset for the weekend, but I'm sure as a team we can turn it into a strength and respect Niki by going flat out on track and bringing a good result."

Verstappen referred to Lauda as "a legend of the sport", while Ricciardo described his "pretty amazing" legacy.

Caleb Ewan earned his second stage win at the 2019 Giro d'Italia as he pipped points classification rivals Arnaud Demare and Pascal Ackermann in Novi Ligure.

Ackermann wore the maglia ciclamino on Wednesday despite crashing in stage 10, but he held just a single point lead over Demare - a winner the previous day - while Ewan was in third.

And all three men were involved late in the action on a day that suited the sprinters, with each rider making a bid for a precious victory.

It looked as though Demare, with support from Groupama-FDJ, and Ackermann, backed by BORA - hansgrohe, would battle to the line until Ewan snatched his triumph.

BORA sent Ackermann clear late on and Demare sought a response, but Ewan got to the wheel first to be well placed for the final 250 metres.

Ackermann moved too early and Ewan emerged from the slipstream to pip Demare, who claimed the points jersey even as the previous leader clung to third place.

Elia Viviani, repeatedly frustrated this year, was left in fourth just behind Ackermann.

The stage 11 drama in the points race was unsurprisingly not matched in the general classification, where no movement saw Valerio Conti retain his lead of one minute and 50 seconds over Primoz Roglic.

 

EWAN HAILS PERFECT TIMING

Ewan reserved praise for his Lotto Soudal team-mates while acknowledging Ackermann's decision to go early gave him the advantage.

"I think Ackermann has proven he's one of the quickest here and, to be honest, he was the first sprinter who came past me with a good train," Ewan said. "So I decided to jump on him.

"My guys got me into a really good position where I didn't have to fight for the wheels too much. That just made my run a whole lot easier. He went quite early, so I could just sit there and time my sprint to perfection."

All eyes will now be on which sprinters opt to drop out after Wednesday's action as the race increases in difficulty.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 5:17:26
2. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) + same time
3. Pascal Ackermann (BORA - hansgrohe) "
4. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step) "
5. Davide Cimolai (Israel Cycling Academy) "

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification 

1. Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) 45:02:05
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) + 1:50
3. Nans Peters (AG2R La Mondiale) + 2:21

Points Classification 

1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 194
2. Pascal Ackermann (BORA - hansgrohe) 183
3. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 159

King of the Mountains  

1. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 32
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 22
3. Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) 18

NEXT UP

After a couple of days that favoured the sprinters, Thursday's 12th stage includes the first category one climb of the race with the Montoso. A shorter 158km ride takes the peloton from Cuneo to Pinerolo.

Jamaica’s gymnastics association has signed a deal with an American apparel manufacturer Alfa Factor that will see the company provide Jamaican gymnasts with gear and cash over a period of two years.

Netball Jamaica has named a strong and experienced squad that will go for glory at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England from July 12-21, 2019.

Mercedes go chasing more history as they travel to the Monaco Grand Prix with a huge lead in the Formula One title race.

The Silver Arrows, led by Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, have registered one-twos in each of the first five meetings of the 2019 season, yet Monte Carlo has not always been a happy hunting ground.

Red Bull have enjoyed this event in previous years, although Daniel Ricciardo - a star on this circuit - has now departed.

Will Red Bull be able to repeat their past success? Or can Mercedes maintain their incredible form? We take a look at the key Opta numbers ahead.

 

1 - Ferrari's Charles Leclerc heads to his home grand prix still looking to become the first Monegasque driver to win a race in F1.

2 - Ricciardo (Renault) has taken two of the last three pole positions in Monaco GP, accounting for two of the three pole positions in his F1 career.

3 - Mercedes have not recorded a pole position in any of their past three visits to Monaco, their worst active streak at one grand prix. They last won there in 2016.

4 - Four different drivers have won the last four Monaco GPs: Nico Rosberg (2015), Hamilton (2016), Sebastian Vettel (2017) and Ricciardo (2018).

6 - If Mercedes record a one-two finish again in Monaco, they would boast the best such streak in F1 history (six in a row). Their current run includes three wins for Hamilton and two for Bottas.

13 - Vettel has now not won in any of the past 13 grands prix he has finished, the worst run of his career.

272 - Red Bull have collected 272 points at Monte Carlo, their most at a single F1 circuit.

992 - Ricciardo is eight points short of 1000 in F1, which a sixth-placed finish would secure. He would become the second Australian driver to this landmark after Mark Webber (1,047.5 points).

Tributes continue to pour in for Formula One great Niki Lauda, with 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve describing him as an iconic character of the sport.

Lauda's death at the age of 70 was announced on Tuesday, and an array of F1 stars past and present have since spoken of their admiration for the three-time world champion.

The Austrian claimed drivers' titles in 1975, 1977 and 1984, despite being involved in a near-fatal crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.

He also played an instrumental role in Mercedes' recent dominance of the sport, having worked with the Silver Arrows as their non-executive chairman.

Speaking to reporters at an event in Monaco, Villeneuve said: "He was an iconic character of Formula One. He marked his era. And he was still important in the field after his career.

"He was very important politically, especially for Mercedes. He always said what he thought. Not everyone liked that, but thanks to him, some things changed." 

Lauda was victorious twice at the Monaco Grand Prix, which will be held in Monte Carlo this weekend, winning in '75 and '76.

Prince Albert of Monaco added of Lauda: "He was a great champion, he was a great man. We saw him often in Monaco. He won the Monaco Grand Prix twice.

"He had a successful professional life, after his driver career. He was a person I liked to discuss with.

"He always had a relevant vision of motorsport world. But not only that. We talked about economy, politics... you could talk about many things with Niki Lauda.

"He left his mark on Formula One history. And he left his mark on life of people who met him."

Cooper Cronk begins his farewell NRL tour in Newcastle as the Sydney Roosters face the Knights in the first match since their star halfback announced he is retiring.

The 35-year-old, who has played the second-most games in NRL history, announced on Monday that his 16th season would be his last and he begins his long goodbye against the Newcastle Knights, when Cronk, currently on 99 tries, will look to score his 100th.

Melbourne Storm's Cameron Munster is also set to reach a milestone as he will make his 100th appearance if he features at Canterbury Bulldogs, while Parramatta Eels' Manu Ma'u will bring up his century too if he plays against Penrith Panthers.

We pick out some Opta facts for the next round of matches.

Thursday

Parramatta Eels (5-5) v Penrith Panthers (2-8)

- The Panthers have won six of their previous eight NRL games in Parramatta, winning the most recent encounter between the two 20-18.

- Parramatta have run in eight tries from moves starting within their own half, which is the joint-most in the competition along with the Sydney Roosters.

Friday

Manly Sea Eagles (6-4) v Gold Coast Titans (2-8)

- There could be plenty of tries from kicks in this game, with Manly conceding 12 scores from that method and the Titans shipping eight.

- Gold Coast's Mitch Rein has averaged the most tackles (49) of any player named to take the field in Round 11.

Newcastle Knights (5-5) v Sydney Roosters (8-2)

- The Roosters have an excellent recent record against the Knights, winning 10 of their previous 11 games against Newcastle. Sydney have won six on the trot by an average margin of 21 points per game.

- Of those players who have made at least 100 tackles in this year's NRL, no player has missed fewer than Nat Butcher (three).

Saturday

Canberra Raiders (6-4) v North Queensland Cowboys (4-6)

- Canberra have beaten North Queensland in three successive matches, having won just three of the previous 13.

- Michael Morgan could have a big part to play for the Cowboys given he has had six try involvements (two tries, four assists) in his last three NRL matches against the Raiders.

New Zealand Warriors (4-6) v Brisbane Broncos (4-6)

- The past 10 meetings between these two sides have been won by the team ahead at half-time, with the Warriors emerging victorious six times.

- Brisbane have lost their last four NRL games away from Suncorp Stadium and have failed to register a point in the first half of three of those contests.

South Sydney Rabbitohs (9-1) v Wests Tigers (5-5)

- NRL leaders South Sydney are bidding for consecutive wins against the Tigers for the first time since 2015.

- Damien Cook has made 15 try assists in 2019, the most in the competition and seven more than the next best hooker, Cameron Smith.

Sunday

Canterbury Bulldogs (3-7) v Melbourne Storm (8-2)

- After winning six games in a row against Melbourne, Canterbury have now lost three NRL matches on the spin against them.

- Aiden Tolman has averaged the most tackles per game by a prop in NRL, the Bulldogs star's 39 is 18 more than Melbourne's leading prop Jesse Bromwich (21).

St George Illawarra Dragons (4-6) v Cronulla Sharks (5-5)

- Chad Townsend will make his 150th NRL appearance if he features for the Sharks while the Dragons' Cameron McInnes is in line for his 100th game.

- Cronulla have averaged the most offloads per game (14) in the NRL, four more than the Dragons.

Terry Stotts received a multi-year contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers in part because of his success developing young players.

News of the extension was revealed on Tuesday as the Blazers went through their exit interviews following the 4-0 series defeat to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

Confirming the news, general manager Neil Olshey told reporters: "We win every year. But it goes beyond just wins and losses. It's alignment. It's partnership. It's knowing the organisation is moving forward.

"It's a commitment to a longer-term view, that there are priorities beyond just the next game.

"We still have one of the youngest rosters in the league. Every [player] who has come through here has gotten better. At heart, you're hiring a coach to be a teacher.

"As we see the league get younger, there's such a value placed — especially in a market like Portland, where we can't always buy our way out of trouble — on developing our young players and finding reclamation projects and developing them.

"I don't know that anybody has had as much success as this staff in second-round picks panning out, guys who have flamed out elsewhere becoming contributors and integral players. That consistency is important."

Former Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks coach Stotts took over the Blazers in 2012. They have made the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons and won 50 games or more three times.

"I'm pleased with the season," Stotts said. "I'm pleased we came to an agreement. I'm very happy here. I'm happy with the team.

"It was probably the most enjoyable year I've had as a head coach as far as the group of guys we had. We've gone through peaks and valleys over my tenure. This is another peak. I couldn't be more happy things have turned out the way we have.

"I never thought I was going to get another opportunity as a head coach. Neil plucked me out and gave me the opportunity. To be here seven years later is remarkable. I have a lot of gratitude for everyone who has helped make that possible."

The Trail Blazers are also expected to give All-Star point guard Damian Lillard a supermax extension this offseason, stretching out his deal to six years.

Pat Lam has agreed a long-term contract with Bristol Bears until 2023.

Lam took over as head coach in 2017 and led Bristol to promotion to the Premiership in his first season in charge.

Bristol won a club-record 16 successive fixtures in that campaign and then comfortably survived in the top flight, finishing ninth.

The Bears' 51 points are the most earned by a promoted club since 2007.

"I'm proud to commit my future to Bristol and it was an easy decision to make," said Lam, whose title has been changed to director of rugby.

"We've set out a plan to bring a Premiership trophy to Ashton Gate and we're at the start of that journey."

 

Aaron Rodgers might have had a cameo in the final season of Game of Thrones, but the Green Bay Packers quarterback was less than impressed with how the hit television series concluded.

The hugely popular fantasy drama aired for the final time on Sunday and the polarising ending left many fans underwhelmed, including NFL star Rodgers.

He featured as an extra in the penultimate episode and offered a passionate response to reporters when asked whether he was pleased that Bran Stark was chosen to reign over the six kingdoms.

"No," Rodgers bluntly replied.

"I love the show and it was a great 10 years but no.

"You come down to the end and Tyrion says, 'The person with the best story is Bran'. Who, by the way, three episodes ago said he wasn't Bran Stark any more...no.

"Jon had a better story, Dany had a better story, Arya had a better story, Sansa had a better story, Tyrion had a better story, Varys had a better story. Bronn, lot better story. Jaime, better story. Cersei, probably a better story. Any Baratheon, better story."

While good might have trumped evil at the end, Rodgers added he wanted to see Daenerys Targaryen on the throne despite the blood-thirsty Mother of Dragons turning into the Mad Queen.

The Game of Thrones writers have faced fierce criticism for rushing the conclusion and a petition to remake the final season "with competent writers" has over 1.4 million signatures.

Rodgers suggested David Benioff and D.B. Weiss may have been distracted by their work with one of the upcoming Star Wars films.

"I loved the opportunity to be in the show - which, most people probably don't think I was, but I was there - I love the show but the writers were also doing Star Wars...so I think they might have been a bit busy this last season," Rodgers added.

There has been much debate about Rodgers' cameo in episode five and he said it was "true" that he was in a bell tower scene.

However, the Packers quarterback dispelled the notion that he was one of the characters that got burned alive.

"I'm disappointed in every person who would actually say that was me," he revealed.

"If you actually watch that person run, they're a total non-athlete!"

Nick Bosa, the second overall pick in the NFL Draft, tweaked his hamstring in practice for the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday.

Coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed the injury occurred during one-on-one drills. While Bosa did not leave the field, he did not finish practice and walked with a limp following the incident.

"I know it was his hamstring, but I'm not sure of the severity of it," Shanahan said after practice concluded.

The former Ohio State defensive end entered 2018-19 as one of the top prospects in the country, but was sidelined with a core injury after playing just three games in his junior season. 

Bosa underwent core muscle surgery following the injury and elected to withdraw from school following the operation to prepare for the draft rather than finish the season with the Buckeyes.

Bosa posted 17.5 career sacks in 29 games at Ohio State and will be crucial to the 49ers improving upon last season's 4-12 finish.

Shanahan also confirmed running back Matt Breida suffered a slightly torn pectoral lifting weights and will be sidelined until training camp.

His fellow running back Jerick McKinnon is still recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered before the end of last season. When all are healthy the Niners should have a deep backfield, having signed Tevin Coleman to a two-year deal in free agency.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, whose September ACL tear derailed the 49ers' 2018 hopes, will remain restricted to seven-on-seven drills until training camp.

"Jimmy was threading it," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "He got the ball right where he wanted to.

"Obviously, he's been limited in the things that he can do, but he had a lot of reps, and he looked really good.

"He was putting the ball in some risky spots, where it seemed risky. It was real confident throws. He completed every single one of them."

Giannis Antetokounmpo insisted there is no pressure on the Milwaukee Bucks despite allowing the Toronto Raptors to tie their Eastern Conference Finals series on Tuesday.

The Bucks held a 2-0 lead after the opening pair of games in Milwaukee, but Toronto - after a thrilling double overtime win in Game 3 - levelled the series at 2-2 with a 120-102 victory at Scotiabank Arena in Game 4.

Milwaukee trailed by 10 points at the half and were unable to overturn that deficit, with Antetokounmpo blaming a poor third quarter for their inability to produce a turnaround.

"Obviously I think we started aggressive, in the third quarter we came out flat," Antetokounmpo said. 

"It's something we can get better at, something we can fix, it's something that we've been doing all season.

"Usually in the third quarter we come out and we're aggressive, making shots, moving the ball but we weren't able to do it.

"But at the end of the day we're not going to lose our confidence, hopefully when we get back home we can execute better in the third quarter and the whole game."

Performing in the third will be pivotal for the Bucks not only in this series but also if they do make it to the NBA Finals, where a Golden State Warriors team renowned for game-changing third-quarter runs will be the opposition.

But Antetokounmpo does not believe there is any extra burden on the Bucks after this loss, adding: "There's no pressure, obviously we've got to take care of [our] home [matches], it's our job but I don't think there's pressure. We've just to go out there and have fun, play good basketball, be us, and try to win.

"Just got to play with more energy, execute better, but our feeling is the same, doesn't change, they did their job. They protected home and we've got to do our job now.

"Got to give them credit, obviously they are doing a great job defensively, helping one another, closing the drive lanes, using their hands in the passing lanes but we've got to execute better, got to take better care of the ball.

"We've been playing good basketball the whole year, if you lose one or two games it's not the end of the world."

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet credited the birth of his second child for helping him return to form after the worst shooting slump of his playoff career, as they levelled the Eastern Conference Finals with the Milwaukee Bucks.

VanVleet flew to Illinois on Monday to witness the birth of his son Fred Jr, before hurrying back to Toronto for the Raptors' 120-102 Game 4 victory over the Bucks, which tied the series at 2-2.

The 25-year-old went seven for 44 and three for 25 from three-point range since the start of the Conference semi-finals with the Philadelphia 76ers.

However, in Game 4 he went five for six shooting and nailed all of his three-point attempts as he, Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka added 48 points from the bench.

"It makes you tired," VanVleet said of the arrival of his second child. "It gives you a little perspective, I guess, on life.

"I had a lot of time to think. Had to sit at the hospital all day, had a lot of time to think, obviously a plane ride back.

"It just changes the way you're looking at things. You are not so down on yourself about everything."

The bench's performance took the strain off Kawhi Leonard, with Toronto able to level things up despite the former San Antonio Spurs star tallying just 19 points after racking up 36 in their Game 3 win.

"We know we have to be better," VanVleet added. "We see all the stuff. We understand what the narrative has turned into, that it is kind of 'Kawhi Leonard and The Backup Singers.'

"We understand that. Sometimes it has been like that, and there's other stuff that goes into that. There's give and take there. But we have to do the same s*** again in Game 5."

The Raptors are aiming to make the Finals for the first time in franchise history, with defending champions the Golden State Warriors awaiting the winner of the series.

Leonard said of the production his team-mates delivered: "It was big time. Everybody contributed, knocking down shots, playing great defense.

"[I] feel good. Keep going, keep fighting. We have a chance to make history."

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