If you really listen you can probably hear the whistles still blowing. Each team recorded at least five fouls above their average on a sad, sloppy night in Orlando as the Milwaukee Bucks fell to the Orlando Magic 112-96. Their scrambling defense failed to lock down an offensively challenged Magic team, allowing seven Magic players to score double digits and the Bucks’ offense mirrored that same scrambling attitude.
Despite Jabari Parker’s resumed aggression on the offensive end and a team-high 25 points, the Bucks bench crippled against Jeff Green’s transition game, D.J. Augustin’s elusiveness, Aaron Gordon’s nimble attacks and Elfrid Payton’s 20-point outburst. The Bucks reserves were outscored 44-28 on the night.
Known for being comically frontcourt heavy, the group of Gordon, Ibaka, Biyombo and Vucevic dominated John Henson so much that Miles Plumlee got 15 semi-productive minutes while Greg Monroe struggled mightily en route to a -29 for the night. The depth and relentless Magic big men buffeted the boards to the tune of a +13 rebounding margin.
On the night after its announcement, future All-Star starter Giannis Antetokounmpo went 6-17 from the floor for 17 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists amid foul trouble all night. Malcolm Brogdon knocked down four of his six three pointers and registered four assists on a night when nobody was hitting their shots. Michael Beasley, Matthew Dellavedova and Jason Terry were deadweight in their short stints.
The Bucks came out attacking what the Magic were giving them defensively with Jabari Parker striking from all angles and firing from three, including early triples from Parker, Giannis and Brogdon. With the offensive-minded Nikola Vucevic starting, John Henson grabbed an offensive rebound for an early putback.
A trio of Bucks short corner jumpers wasn’t enough to cover up some poor defense and turnovers as the Magic went on a 7-0 run. Attacking wide open lanes, an unsettled defense and slowly recovering Bucks defenders, the Magic manipulated the Bucks bench defense to cut the lead to three.
More empty possessions for Milwaukee through the end of the first quarter by shooting just 5-17 after starting out 5-9 from the field helped the Magic lead by 2 after the first twelve minutes at 25-23.
Giannis’ quick cut down the lane resulted in an easy dunk, but the Magic kept up the aggressive, quick attacks with Jeff Green. Early fouls hurt the Bucks, giving up three-point plays on back-to-back possessions.
Subsequently, back-to-back three pointers from the Magic hurt as the Bucks still couldn’t buy a shot, but their aggression got them to the free throw line and kept them in the game. Two goaltending calls and a basket interference against Ibaka and Biyombo were impressive displays of athleticism and a much needed tourniquet for the Bucks putrid shooting percentage. With the ball on the left elbow Giannis drew the defensive attention he rightfully deserves and whipped the ball to Parker in the far corner for a much needed three-pointer.
The foul-laden first half ended with the Bucks down four at 59-55 despite sending the Magic to the line 19 times, matching the number of points Parker scored in the first half. A second quarter surge helped the Bucks recover from a devastating run from Monroe, Terry, Dellavedova and Beasley. Defensively, the Bucks were exploited on quick attacks and the Magic guards got penetration for dump off passes that spearheaded a balanced attack.
Continuing the sloppy play, the second half featured a foul barrage and more missed buckets.
Besides a short sequence of a transition bucket and then a Giannis helpside block on Elfrid Payton’s drive leading to a Monroe run out, the Magic continued to outplay the Bucks. Their manipulation of the Bucks defense got them open cuts, and they attacked on the offensive glass for easy buckets. The Magic ended the quarter on a 12-2 run and a 14 point lead, 88-74. Giannis’ missed transition layup to end the quarter pretty much summed up the Bucks night to that point.
The Apocalypse lineup of Vaughn-Teletovic-Brogdon-Plumlee-Parker scored seven straight points to open the fourth, drawing three quick Magic fouls in the process. Parker’s great night continued with a long jumper and a great blow by drive on Jeff Green for a tough layup at the rim.
As expected though, the Apocalypse lineup regressed back to the true meaning of its name and surrendered seven swift points to the Magic after a Parker turnover and Teletovic miss gave the Magic run outs and continued the bountiful offensive rebounding opportunities.
That was the last gasp for the Bucks on a night where they led early, surrendered the lead and never could get back into it. Giannis fouled out with four and a half minutes left when Rashad Vaughn dropped a pass to him in transition; in preparation for a prototypical highlight dunk he rammed through Aaron Gordon for his sixth foul.
The Bucks dropped their fourth game in a row and face the Miami Heat Saturday night.
The Bucks shot 10-25 from the three point line, with Parker and Brogdon hitting seven of those and Vaughn knocking down two late garbage time threes. When they realized their outside game was absent the Bucks attacked the Magic in the second quarter and early in the fourth to gain some momentum at the free throw line. On a night when the referees were so entertained by the sound of their own whistles it was good to see the Bucks cognizant of that at times. They went 18-26 at the free throw line (69%), but that doesn’t matter when the Magic go 24-31 (77%).
Jabari came out very aggressive tonight which was great to see after a few quiet nights. The problem was a lot of it seemed to be iso ball from the top of the key. With such little spacing at times and the Magic big men setting up shots in the paint it was going to be a tough night to attack the rim the way he wants to. There were too many turnaround 12-footers and not enough opportunities for him to attack a readjusting Magic defense.
The Bucks got outscored in the paint 58-36 tonight. That’s supposed to be something the Bucks are good at. They don’t stand a chance if they can’t score points in the paint.
It was honestly just a sad, sloppy performance from the Bucks who got another fast start (hurray!) and an early ten-point lead, but quickly squandered that and never got back into it. Jason Kidd went to a small lineup with Teletovic and Giannis the only bigs in the game, but that didn’t work either, especially with the Bucks missing so many shots and the Magic dominating the glass all night.