The Orlando Magic were in Wisconsin last night to play the Milwaukee Bucks for the final time this season. Orlando lost the last meeting between the clubs but won the first two. Rookie guard Victor Oladipo was activated, coming back from a sore ankle that kept him out of the previous two games. He came off the bench along with Tobias Harris; Moe Harkless and Kyle O’Quinn getting the starting nods once again. Harkless had one of his best games of the season last time out against San Antonio Spurs when he recorded a double-double. Both he and O’Quinn have really turned it on as of late and Harris has thrived in the sixth man role.
The first quarter tipped off with an O’Quinn/Ersan Ilyasova matchup at the 4 spot. Jacque Vaughn has been known to play the matchups but decided to keep O’Quinn in the starting rotation despite Ilyasova’s ability to stretch the floor. O’Quinn actually took advantage of the size difference on offense as he scored a couple of early baskets. Unfortunately that is where the offense stopped, as the game went through a scoreless stretch. It was expected as the game featured two of the bottom three teams in the league.
Eventually Ilyasova broke up the cold streak and found a rhythm; it was obvious that O’Quinn felt uncomfortable guarding him on the perimeter. The Turkish forward tallied six points in a span of just a couple minutes. The four offensive rebounds in the first quarter certainly helped the Bucks as well. Then Tobias Harris entered the game. From the time he came in, Harris wreaked havoc with 11 points in five minutes against the team that drafted him in 2011. The field-goal percentages told the tale of that first period with Orlando shooting 50 percent compared to Milwaukee’s 26 percent to give the Magic an 11-point lead.
Orlando stretched that lead to 18 but Milwaukee fought hard and put together a couple of small runs to get back into the game. Before the end of the half the Bucks mounted a bit of a comeback and cut the lead to single digits at a score of 51-45.
The second half started with veteran guard Arron Afflalo looking to take advantage of smaller defenders in the post. The Bucks matched a combination of Nate Wolters and Brandon Knight on the UCLA product who averaged 26 points per game on 63 percent shooting in the first three meetings between the two ball clubs. He was not quite as effective in this one, finishing with 12 on just 4-of-14 shooting.
This game proved to be a game of runs and the Bucks were quite streaky in the third quarter, going 0-of-7 to begin the period and then 10-of-14 thereafter. With 11 minutes remaining in the game, Milwaukee finally took the lead for the first time since the score was 10-9. This came behind Knight scoring nine points in the first 90 seconds of the period. With a score of 77-71, Vaughn called a timeout to regroup as the game was getting away from his team.
The Magic were never really able to get it going again and only saw the lead grow throughout the period. The Bucks were scorching hot, raining threes the entire period when they couldn’t buy one in the first three quarters. With no answer for it, Orlando lost the game 105-98 after leading by 18 at one point early in the game. Orlando has had trouble winning on the road and this game was just the latest example.
Magic Game Notes
Balanced scoring attack
The Orlando Magic enjoyed a balanced scoring attack in this one with seven players in double figures. It was a total team effort with no one person putting up incredible numbers, but rather a collection of players pitching in on offense. Although the team lost, it’s nice to see a complete team game being played.
Ilyasova finds his stroke
Ersan Ilyasova really got it going in this one, especially when matched up against O’Quinn, who is inexperienced at guarding a player like him. He recorded a double-double and was really the only guy who kept the game within striking distance when nobody else was stepping up. He finished the night with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Bucks explode in fourth
The Bucks exploded in the final period of this game. Behind strong play from Khris Middleton and especially Knight, the Bucks were able to sneak out a win in a game that looked all but over at one point. Middleton finished with 21 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds and went 5-for-8 from deep. Knight tallied 24 points and six assists.
Stat of the night
Brandon Knight was perfect from the free-throw line in all four meeting between the Bucks and Magic, going 21-for-21.