It's hard to be excited when the Milwaukee Bucks are thoroughly outplayed at home for three quarters of a game against the lottery-bound Orlando Magic. But when the fourth quarter of that game involves an outburst of scoring rarely seen in the NBA today, it's okay to feel excited. Monta Ellis sure is, because for at least one day, Monta Ellis really did have it all.
Ellis scored 25 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter after the Milwaukee Bucks bumbled their way to an 11-point deficit after 36 minutes. He became the first player in the NBA to score 25 points in a quarter. He sank 8 of his 10 shot attempts in the fourth including 5 straight three-pointers, a truly stunning feat for a player shooting just 24% from behind the arc this season.
Make no mistake, though, Ellis' explosion bailed the Bucks out of what would have been yet another indefensible (pun intended) loss for a team trying desperately to escape from the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Bucks had a hard time scoring with any efficiency until Ellis blew up, but they couldn't slow down Orlando to compensate. Granted, there were some tough makes by the Magic as they clung to their lead, including a few turnaround jumpers from Arron Afflalo (24 points) against legitimately strong defense from Ellis. But the Bucks didn't really turn that half of the game around, they simply turned it all over to Ellis and let him run away from the Magic, who just couldn't keep up. A 3-pointers from Ellis put the Bucks up by 4 with 13 seconds left, and the Magic were whistled for a 5-second inbounds call to give the ball back to Milwaukee. A pair of free throws by J.J. Redick officially iced the game.
The Bucks also got 20 points and 11 rebounds from Ersan Ilyasova, who shot 7-13 from the field. Brandon Jennings didn't shoot well (15 points on 15 shots) but notched 14 assists, 8 of which came in the final quarter. Redick made just one basket in 23 minutes against his former team.
Maurice Harkless had 23 points for the Magic, 17 of which came in the first half. Nikola Vucevic also added 20 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 assists. Perhaps most importantly (in the eye of Bucks fans), Tobias Harris scored 14 on 4-8 shooting, also grabbing 8 boards and blocking 2 shots. But in a moment that likely had some sort of cosmic significance, he fouled out in the fourth quarter on a charging call drawn by Ersan Ilyasova. Despite shooting better than 50% from the field, Orlando made just 5 of their 21 treys and were outscored by the Bucks 23-10 at the stripe.