A quick look at the defensive and offensive ratings for the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic would have given the observer a clear idea of what was likely to happen when those teams met in Orlando Friday night. Tobias Harris and the Magic had other ideas.
Milwaukee's strong early-season defense was no match for Orlando's anemic offense as neither unit held true to form Friday night. Instead the Bucks extended a long losing streak in Orlando, falling 101-85. The Magic used a strong second half to put away a Bucks team that couldn't find many open shots on the perimeter and rarely made those it could. Milwaukee hit only 2 of 19 shots outside the arc--Brandon Knight was 2-8, while Ersan Ilyasova and O.J. Mayo were a combined 0-7. Harris led the Magic with a 26 point, 10 rebound double-double while Victor Oladipo scored 13 points in his season debut.
The Bucks attacked the basket relentlessly in the first half, outscoring the Magic 42-18 in the paint. Part of that was just opportunity, as the Magic put up very little resistance early in the game. But it was also a reaction to how badly the Bucks shot the ball from any distance at all. It's something of a credit to the Bucks that they were able to hit 49 points in the first half while shooting so poorly, and there were a number of excellent cuts and dump-off passes that gave Milwaukee some easy buckets. John Henson and Nate Wolters connected on two such buckets, with Henson feeding Nate each time after taking a dribble hand-off and Nate finishing a mostly uncontested layup. But they could have carried a substantial lead into the break with even marginally decent shooting on jumpers.
Things got far more mucked up after halftime, and the Bucks' jump shooting never showed up to bail out an offense that had a harder time getting inside. Milwaukee only scored 14 more points in the paint in the second half and just 36 overall.
Knight dominated the scoring for Milwaukee in the first half, pouring in 19 points on 8-12 shooting. He sank the team's only shot outside the paint, a left wing three-pointer that made the Bucks 1-8 from deep in the half. But he added just five more points after the break to finish with 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. He generally played more under control that he had been recently, but a few late turnovers (including an overhead one-handed pass that sailed into the third row) hurt Milwaukee's chances of rallying for a victory.
Jabari Parker attempted only five shots in 27 minutes of game time, finishing with 6 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 turnovers. He was on the bench for much of Milwaukee's threatening mini-run in the fourth quarter and failed to make much of an impact overall, though he did sink a crazy spinning runner-thingy in traffic.
OH AND THERE WERE SOME GIANNIS HIGHLIGHTS.
Those were just two of many, as Giannis bullied his way to the rim time after time. He worked on big and small defenders in the post, took guys off the dribble, and made quick cuts to the rim in transition and the half court. He led the Bucks with 7 rebounds and finished with a new career-high 19 points on 9-15 shooting.
Giannis continues to thrive exploiting matchups when he lines up as a de facto power forward. He showed a terrific--and terrifying--combination of length and coordination taking Magic defenders off the dribble in the style seen above. His ability to cover huge distances in just a few steps before rising up and shooting over defenders is really something. The emphasis going forward will be establishing greater consistency, but nights like tonight are a wonderful reminder of what this guy is capable of.