The first quarter featured strong displays on both ends of the court as Brook Lopez racked up 4 blocks and Eric Bledsoe working in tandem with Giannis to key the Bucks to a 33-24 lead. At that point it turned into a full-on boat race as Orlando looked every part of a team playing the second half of a back-to-back allowing the Bucks to push their margin to 59-46 at the break. Then this news broke:
Sincere congrats to Marques, and all credit to the Bucks for all the work they’ve done reconnecting with foundational players of the past.
Surprisingly, it was Orlando’s starters who came to life out of the break with the less-energetic Bucks allowing the Magic to get the deficit into single-digits, 87-82. The fourth quarter was nearly a wash, though, as the Bucks answered each Magic bucket in kind and kept a safe distance from danger on their way to a less-comfortable-than-it-looked win.
The story, especially on offense, for Milwaukee was almost completely centered around the two-man tandem of Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Beyond their first quarter dominance, both would bully their individual defenders time after time in the paint on their way to 30 points (on 12-14 shooting), 7 rebounds and 2 assists for Eric and 25 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists for Giannis.
As for the bad guys, the Magic were led by potential All-Star (!!!) Nikola Vucevic and his 27 points and 6 rebounds while Terrence Ross, whose hot third-quarter keyed the Orlando comeback, ended with 16 points. Unfortunately for Orlando their all-length emphasis didn’t help them much as the Bucks regularly muscled defenders out of their way.
Stat that Stood Out
Blocks, blocks, and even more blocks! It shouldn’t be all that shocking given his career-high block percentage of 6.1%, but Brook Lopez and his 6 blocks were critical in derailing Orlando’s early-game offensive rhythm. He’s blocked 23 attempts in the past seven games in yet another example that, beyond all our wildest expectations, a defense built around Lopez in 2019 really can work!