Two wins over two NBA powers in two consecutive games?
Too much Dwight Howard. Too many three pointers.
Too much to ask for.
When it rains it pours, and the Magic rained three pointers and Dwight Howard poured dunks early and often. Orlando raced to an insurmountable, 16-point first quarter and hardly bothered to peak in the rearview mirror thereafter.
The Bucks fell to 2-3 on their homestand after the 106-80 loss. They clearly didn't carry any momentum from Sunday's win over the Celtics, so now we must hope they don't carry any sluggishness from tonight when they finish their six straight games at the BC against Portland on Saturday.
Howard dropped 28/12/7 and a couple blocks on the Bucks, with most of the damage quite literally coming in the first quarter, when he put up 18 points and six rebounds. A dominating performance by Howard, who was able to rest in the fourth thanks to his superman effort in the first.
Charlie Villanueva. This game fits the phrase "nothing to write home about" from Milwaukee's perspective, so forgive me if I keep these congratulations brief. And really, singling out three impressive Bucks tonight is tantamount to picking three favorite vegetables as a kid. (Full disclosure: I like veggies quite a lot now) This was certainly not the most impactful game for Charlie, but he somehow slipped in a team-high 17 points in 24 minutes as the Bucks continue to shoot sub-40 % from the field.
- Dan Gadzuric. Though the Dutchman was predictably worked by Howard, at least Gadzuric tried. He even made a few flips at the basket fall, resulting in a solid 10 points in 16 minutes.
Ramon Sessions. The point guard scores points for leading the team in rebounds (7) and assists (5). And it's a good thing, because he didn't actually score many points (6).
24. Orlando typically shoots a whole mess of threes. One third of their shots on the season are from long range, in fact. The Magic made 8-14 from the long range in the first half, resulting in 24 points, one for each minute. Meanwhile, Milwaukee made just one from deep in the first half. Combined with Howard going nuts in the paint, it is no wonder that the Magic carried a 30-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
- 15. I noted in the game preview that the Bucks would likely attempt to slow Howard by sending the center to the line, but I didn't think it would be quite this extreme: Malik Allen (6), Francisco Elson (5), and Gadzuric (4) combined for 15 fouls in just 47 minutes. That, of course, doesn't even equal a full game's length.
- 37.7 %. Shooting below 38 % from the field isn't a recipe for success, even if it worked on Sunday. The Bucks hit an unexpected offensive stride shortly after losing a few of their top players to injuries, but firepower is severely lacking now. It's really tough for them to score when guys like Keith Bogans (0-3, 0 points) and Charlie Bell (0-4, 1 point) are off, like tonight.
Split. The Bucks were outscored by a net 15 points against Eastern Conference elite in the past two games, but still they split games against Boston and Orlando. That will have to work.
Get up. After failing to score in the first couple minutes of the game, each Buck starter kindly took a turn making a field goal in the next two minutes. Jefferson and Sessions hit jump shots, Mbah a Moute slid in for a layup, Villanueva nailed a three, and Elson hit a short jumper. Only a couple opening night starters in the bunch, but the ball moved freely, and I'm not going to cliché you with sentence upon sentence about how this group plays team basketball, because you've been paying attention all year long. On some nights though, an individual can make all of the potentially plucky ball irrelevant. That happened tonight. And it happened in the first quarter, sucking everything out of Milwaukee. Nonetheless, this team hasn't stayed down for long this season, so I'm optimistic that they will recover by Saturday evening for Portland.
Saw Joe. I appreciated Joe Alexander's eternal energy turning into eight points, four rebounds, and six free throw attempts. It's been almost two months since Alexander last played more than the 21 minutes he spent on the court tonight.
- Strange Magic. Few teams have charged into the BC and simply bullied the Bucks like Orlando did tonight in a 26-point win. None, actually. From inside and out, Orlando finished this game before the halftime horn sounded in easily the most lopsided home loss of Milwaukee's season. This has the potential to demoralize.
- Twice more isn't nice. Sometimes after the Bucks lose to a top-notch foe, I'll note how the consolation is that at least Milwaukee doesn't have to face them again. Unfortunately, that is not the case tonight. No one is looking forward to either of the final two matchups between these teams. Except Orlando and its fans. This heavy, late dosage of the Magic sure is a cruel scheduling quirk for Milwaukee.
If you don't know by now. I'm talkin' bout Chi-town. Tonight is one of those times when you must look for good things in places other than where the Bucks played basketball. Yet it's also one of those nights when good things can't be found no matter where you look. No lucky lightning bolts tonight, as Chicago traveled down to Oklahoma City to beat the Thunder. The Bucks trail them by 1.5 games for the eight spot in the East. Oh, and the Bobcats and Nets won as well.