For the second time this season, and fist since the opening month, the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic squared off. Coming into the night, the two teams sat with the worst records in the league, so something had to give. Sure enough, something did, with the Magic taking home a commanding 113-102 victory on Friday night.
For the first time in a while, the Magic started off a game hot, grabbing an eight-point lead before one could blink. Behind Arron Afflalo’s 14 first quarter points, the Magic grabbed a 15-point lead by the time the period was over. The Magic used hot shooting, knocking down 11-of-20 from the field, while holding the Bucks to a less successful 8-of-19.
The second quarter was much like the first, with the Magic knocking down shot after shot, growing their lead to 22 at one point. The Magic were able to grow their lead thanks in large part to Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris, who combined for 16 off the bench in the period. A buzzer-beating corner three from Afflalo gave the Magic a 21-point lead heading into the halftime break.
Out of halftime, the Magic picked up where they left off, with crisp possessions offensively. Even without starting point guard Jameer Nelson, the Magic looked crisp offensively, with Doron Lamb stepping in and knocking down all three of his field-goal attempts in the period. A Ronnie Price reverse dunk capped off the quarter, with the Magic carrying a 24-point lead into the final quarter of action.
Going into the fourth quarter, the game seemed all but over. However, the Bucks refused to go down without a fight, thanks in large part to Caron Butler’s 15-point quarter. Unfortunately for the Bucks, Butler’s big quarter was not enough, as the Magic had built a lead that was insurmountable, allowing them to hold on to the win by 11.
The Magic brought forth a balanced scoring attack. The bench combined for 59 points on the night, but it was All-Star snub Arron Afflalo who led the way, finishing with a game-high 21 points. Tobias Harris, who was moved to the bench after center Nikola Vucevic returned from a concussion, poured in 18 points. Rookie guard Victor Oladipo continued his hot play, finishing with 15 points and seven assists, while fellow guard E’Twaun Moore scored 13 off the bench. Vucevic and Harkless rounded out the Magic men in double figures, finishing with 12 and 10, respectively.
Milwaukee, on the other hand, struggled to find consistent offense from a single player on the night. Thanks in large part to his big fourth quarter, Caron Butler led the team with 20 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo, who came of the bench after starting the team’s previous 21 games, scored 15, while sharpshooter Gary Neal added 13. Four Bucks starters—Khris Middleton, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders and Brandon Knight—finished in double digits, scoring 10 apiece.
Magic Game Notes
Nelson Leaves With Injury
After playing the entire first quarter, point guard Jameer Nelson did not return for the Magic due to a sore left knee. Nelson was seen before the game with ice on the knee, but there was no indication it was causing him problems. With Nelson out, the team turned to the combination of Oladipo, Moore and Ronnie Price to initiate the offense, which they did fairly well. Nelson has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, and while there’s no indication whether the injury is serious or not, it’s something to be monitored in the coming days.
Without Nelson, the Magic’s bench needed to step up in a big way, and they did. Finishing with a season-high 59 points, the players off the bench seemed unstoppable all night. The team’s second unit has been playing very well, so their big night against the lowly Bucks was not a surprise to many. It’s been up and down for them for much of the season, but their good play of late is something that the team and fans will have to hope continues.
On bench scoring …
“Well, I think first you start off with Doron (Lamb) who started in the second half for us and I thought he came out prepared. He was in-tune to the game plan, which is hard to do if you don’t play the first half, just knowing what’s going on. I thought he took open shots and made them and then also was good on the defensive end by just giving effort and that’s a skill to be able to do that every night. E’Twaun (Moore) was great, for him to step in and play the one position for us, again, it shows his versatility to orchestrate the offense and also play off guard and make shots tonight.”
On closing out the game …
“It’s good for us definitely. We played good as a team today. We did a lot of good things. We kind of took our foot off the gas pedal in the fourth quarter but you just have to keep it going. Other than that we had a good game.”
Stat of the Night
Orlando moved the ball with success and relative ease, dishing out 27 assists on 43 buckets.
The win was the Magic’s 16th straight at home against the Bucks, and third overall in their all-time series.