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Magic 94, Bucks 85: Deja Vu All Over Again

Box Score

When the Milwaukee Bucks last played the Orlando Magic, the Bucks held a 10-point lead in the 4th quarter before submitting to the will of their Floridian opponents. When the Milwaukee Bucks last played the Orlando Magic, the Bucks held a 10-point lead in the 4th quarter before submitting to the will of their Floridian opponents.

No, that's not a typo. History repeated itself as Milwaukee held an 82-72 advantage before allowing what became a nine-minute, 20-3 run in favor of the Magic. The difference is that last week, Orlando bombed Milwaukee into oblivion from behind the arc. On Friday night, it was Milwaukee who did the bombing. And not the good kind.

When the Bucks last lost to the Magic, they fell to 12-15. When the Bucks last lost to the Magic, they fell to 12-18. The more things change, the more they stay the same...

Three Bucks

Ersan Ilyasova. Turkish Delight continued his string of above-average performances with 16 points and 10 rebounds, 4 coming on the offensive glass. He got his points in a number of ways, from a layup to his favored mid-range jumpers to his lone three-point attempt to the free throw line. For a player who reportedly isn't sure about staying in Milwaukee long-term, he's at least playing up to par.

Carlos Delfino. While he didn't continue his white-hot shooting streak, he was easily the most efficient player for Milwaukee, scoring a team-high 16 points on 12 shots. It doesn't sound particularly efficient, but then again, the Bucks weren't particularly efficient. What's more notable, though, is the game-high 39 minutes Cabeza was on the floor for.

Brandon Jennings. He started out the game hot, putting out 8 points and 2 assists in the first 10 minutes of the game. If you extrapolate that, he could have had 24 and 6, easily. But he could barely muster enough to end the game with 14 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds. It didn't stop him from putting the ball up, though (20 shots, most of any player on either team).

Three Numbers

9:33. This is the point in the fourth quarter when it all came tumbling down. After a nice layup and-one from Tobias Harris, the Bucks didn't score again until the 6:09 mark, and even those points were flukes (Brandon Jennings technical free throw off a delay of game penalty, Shaun Livingston offensive rebound off of a blocked Jon Brockman shot). Here are the results of the Bucks possessions from this point until the end (WARNING: depressing content ahead...)

Offensive foul/turnover...turnover...missed jump shot, offensive rebound, turnover...blocked shot...missed jump shot...offensive foul/turnover...made free throw (tech)...blocked shot, offensive rebound/putback...missed three point shot...turnover...blocked shot...missed jump shot, offensive rebound, missed jump shot...missed three point shot...missed three point shot, offensive rebound, missed jump shot...missed layup...missed layup, offensive rebound, turnover...missed three point shot...missed three point shot...

0. The number of minutes played by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Obviously, he wasn't the main factor that swung the game against the Bucks, but his absence surely didn't help matters. For comparison's sake, let's look at the minutes and point totals of some of his frontcourt counterparts:

Jon Leuer: 7 minutes, 0 points

Jon Brockman: 17 minutes, 0 points

Larry Sanders: 19 minutes, 2 points

Analysis suggests that Scott Skiles decided to bench Mbah a Moute for effort-related reasons. The same Mbah a Moute who has been applauded for his defensive acumen was re-upped when Denver tried to pry him away from Milwaukee. Maybe his effort has been lacking. But when your non-Ersan forwards combine for one basket in 43 minutes, how much does "trying hard" really get you?

20-3. The Magic run that ended the game. Again, THE BUCKS LED BY TEN, AND THEN GAVE UP A HUGE RUN TO LOSE THE GAME. I cannot understand how a team of professionals can be this consistently inept, especially when this same team beat the Miami Heat twice.

Three One Good

More burn for Tobias. Everybody here has been clamoring for more minutes for our latest first-round pick. Tobias Harris didn't disappoint, "earning" 16 minutes and using that time to put in 8 points, 3 boards, 2 blocks, and 1 assist. He was also a +8, which was only second to Larry Sanders' inexplicable +16 (despite fouling out in 19 minutes).

Three Bad

Windex shortage. Milwaukee hasn't been able to consistently clean the glass, which is exactly what a team made up of high-effort, high-energy role players needs to do in order to succeed. Ersan Ilyasova got his 10, but no other Buck had more than 4 boards, whereas Dwight Howard pulled down a Dwight Howard-esque 20 rebound, with Quentin Richardson and Ryan Anderson both pulling down an additional 9. Those three players' rebounding totals (38) were just shy of tying Milwaukee's team total (41).

More token minutes for Stephen Jackson. Jackson logged 12 minutes off the bench, none of which resulted in anything notable: 1 make (out of 6 attempts), 4 rebounds, and 2 turnovers. I fully expect someone to ask him how he feels about it, and he will respond with a non-answer that somehow still takes a shot at Skiles. I also fully expect to hear on Twitter that he's hanging out with Brandon Jennings when the team comes to New Jersey on Sunday, and I expect people (me) to freak out about it.

But of course, what do you expect from a guy who has been feuding with the franchise from day one? Is he going to go hard for his coach? Or is he going to keep "being the professional" and "collect his checks"?

But honestly, with this you blame him?

Overall basketball execution. It's hard to write a recap in which the subject team played poorly, but not so poorly that anything stood out as exceptionally bad. But the fact that the Bucks shot 36.7% from the field, 28.6% from behind the line, had a -9 rebounding differential, and committed 28 fouls leads me to believe that they clearly didn't play well.

So, are they tanking? Or are they just bad, but not bad enough to reliably lose?

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