The Orlando Magic came into one of the toughest venues to win in the NBA and did just that, mauling the Bucks 103-83. Milwaukee was on their second game of a back-to-back and Tony Snell got the start with Giannis taking the night off so while this performance was extremely ugly, it seems like an outlier game for an otherwise consistent team. The Magic snapped the Bucks’ league leading 6-game winning streak to improve to 24-32 on the season.
The Bucks began the game on an 8-0 run led by Eric Bledsoe who had a quick 6 points in the paint. Magic coach Steve Clifford called an early timeout to make adjustments and boy, did it work. Orlando proceeded to go on a 20-4 run in the next 7 minutes but couldn’t hold on to their big lead and led by 1 at the end of the first, 20-19. Milwaukee shot just 29.6% from the field and George Hill made the only 3 on 9 team attempts.
Terrence Ross and the Magic found their shooting stroke in the second. Ross led all scorers with 13 in the second quarter alone on 62.5% shooting and All-Star center Nikola Vucevic added 11/7/3 on 5-9 from the field. As a team, Orlando was shooting 64% from 3 in the first half, an area that the Bucks have struggled to defend all season. The Bucks were able to get their offensive productivity up but couldn’t match the Magic. Eric Bledsoe was by far Milwaukee’s best offensive threat with 12/6/4 on just 6 shots. Middleton, Brogdon, and Lopez combined to go 25% from the field and missed all of their 7 3-point attempts. Milwaukee entered the locker room down 59-49 to a team that had an away record of 8-17.
The horror continued into the second half as Milwaukee looked completely out of sorts on offense. The Magic didn’t look much better but still managed to outscore the Bucks 20-15 in an ugly shooting performance. Orlando’s shooting had come back down to Earth but Milwaukee made no improvements and were just 32% from the floor. Bledsoe was the only Buck that was automatic and had 19/9 through three quarters.
With Milwaukee needing a huge fourth to shrink the lead, Brook Lopez began the quarter by rejecting Aaron Gordon on a baseline drive that caused one of the hardest and cleanest blocks of the season. Luckily, Gordon was okay after he hit the floor hard on his back. This seemed like it could be the turning point for the Bucks and just maybe they could get something going at home. That wasn’t the case as they Bucks scored a season low for points in the game and lost by their widest margin, 103-83.
Eric Bledsoe finished with 19/11/5 but that was about it on the offensive side. The rest of the starters combined to make none of their 14 3-point attempts and shot just 29%. There’s nothing else really to say for the Bucks. They lost the battle on the boards and had fewer assists than the Magic which isn’t where Milwaukee’s identity lies. On another note, the Bucks set their franchise record for threes in a season which now sits at 723.
Giannis Antetokounmpo did not participate in this contest due to right knee soreness, just the fourth game Giannis has missed all year. This isn’t anything for Bucks fans to worry about. This is likely a similar move that they made with Khris Middleton yesterday due to the high volume of games before the All-Star break. New Buck Nikola Mirotic hasn’t been cleared to play yet either due to calf-soreness and is day-to-day.
The Bucks’ next game will be Monday in Chicago to face a tanking Bulls team. Milwaukee hasn’t lost back-to-back games all year and still hold the leagues best point differential at +9.7. Only 3 teams in NBA history have every completed an entire season with a point differential of +10 or better and the Bucks still have a chance to become the fourth. Monday’s game should feature Nikola Mirotic’s Bucks debut, in which he will likely be the first player off the bench.