15 wins. The Milwaukee Bucks keep rolling, as they toppled the Orlando Magic, 110-101 Monday night at Fiserv Forum.
Milwaukee clearly looked a little rocky in the early goings of this one, as it took a little extra effort to find baskets. The length of this feisty Orlando team was enough to disorient the Bucks, especially Jonathan Isaac — who had three blocks in the opening few minutes. Despite the frustrations, Milwaukee was able to put together a double-digit lead at the end of one, 31-20.
The Bucks would seem to find themselves in neutral throughout the second quarter. They never really were able to pull away too much, but at the same time, they never really coughed up many points and remained in control. At halftime, they’d still cling to a double-digit advantage, 52-40.
It always felt as if Orlando was going to fight their way back into this one, and it finally happened in the third quarter. They kept picking away at the Milwaukee defense and eventually landed some hits, led by an impactful Terrence Ross who poured in 11 points. Moving into the final period of play, the Bucks still held on to an 80-73 lead.
Turns out it’s tough to make this Magic team “disappear,” (haha...anyone???) as they kept posing a fight in the final quarter. Whenever Milwaukee seemed to finally pull away, Orlando bounced right back, making it a single-digit game for most of the remaining minutes. However, as Wayne Larrivee would say, the dagger would be delivered on a Khris Middleton three from the corner. That’d be enough to pad the Bucks’ 15th straight victory, and send them on the path to face New Orleans on Wednesday night.
As is tradition, Giannis Antetokounmpo was the main highlight on the stat sheet. He’d finish with a game-high 32 points on 12-of-22 shooting, including a pair of threes. Khris Middleton bounced back from a sour start and finished strong with 20 points, including that massive three down the stretch.
For the Magic, Evan Fournier led the way with 26 points. Terrence Ross would feature 23 of his own off the bench.
This was a well-earned win for the Bucks.
I mean, obviously every Bucks fan would prefer that they crush everybody by 20+ points every game (as would the players). However, we all know the likelihood of that happening every game isn’t 100 percent, even with how good Milwaukee is playing. Last night, they faced a difficult Magic team that gave them everything they had for an enduring 48 minutes. That was the mantra in both Budenholzer’s presser and the players’ availability. In fact, Bud expressed some great thoughts on grinding through in a close game even when the team wasn’t playing its best basketball:
“I thought our defense, overall, in the first half gave us a cushion that really withstood the second half of being pretty much equal. They were shooting about 30 percent at half with 40 points. I think our defense, even though I didn’t love the way we played tonight, our first-half defense kind of carried us through. If [Evan] Fournier hadn’t had those seven points late in the second quarter, we would’ve been up 15. I liked the defense in the first half. I think that’s the thing that kind of carried us to the win tonight. Then, there were some big shots and big plays. Giannis with a blocked shot and Donte [DiVincenzo] had some good plays down the stretch. We did just enough to win tonight.”
Could this be the beginning of a bounce back stretch for Brook Lopez?
This is what I utilized as my Stat That Stood Out in the Rapid Recap. Everybody knows that Brook isn’t shooting the basketball as well as he was last year. After last night’s game, he’s currently sitting at 27.9 percent (compared to last season’s 36.5 percent). Despite the drop-off, everybody is encouraging him to shoot — from Budenholzer to Giannis and everybody else. Last night, he connected on 3-of-5 from deep, which was definitely a welcomed sight. Is this the spark he needs to turn things around? Whenever Bud has been asked about it, he’s always gone back to how they just tell him to keep putting shots up and how he wouldn’t be surprised if he goes on a 45+ percent stretch. If that’s the case, it’d make this Bucks team that more lethal.
After a bumpy start, Khris Middleton settled in as things progressed.
It wasn’t the prettiest of starts for Middleton. Things began with his shot not falling, followed by some questionable calls. Nonetheless, he didn’t let it get to him and come the second half, he started to develop a groove. He’d finish the game with his sixth 20 point effort of the season, three of which came via the dagger 3-pointer. He was also vital in the rebounding department, hauling in nine boards on the evening. It’s always great to see players shake off cold starts and develop a way to make shots, even when things aren’t going their way.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Per Bucks PR, this is Milwaukee’s longest-win streak since it won 16 consecutive games from 2/28/73 - 10/13/73 (spanned two seasons) and is the fourth-longest streak in franchise history. The Bucks have now won 19 of their last 21 games dating back to Nov. 1st.
- At 21-3, the Bucks have matched the 1970-71 and 1971-72 teams for the best 24-game start in franchise history. Milwaukee has also extended their home winning streak to 11 games, marking their longest home win streak since the Light It Up, Light It Up 2000-01 season (also 11 games, 12/9 - 1/23).
- I really enjoyed watching Jonathan Isaac out on the floor. He’s going to be a special player in this league. It was an electric start to the game for him, as he racked up several blocks in the opening minutes.
- Ersan continues to be a massive presence off the bench, contributing with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting and a pair of threes. That’s his third consecutive game scoring in double figures, which matches his season-long streak for scoring in double figures. One of those treys that he knocked down? This cocky three:
A Magic throw away leads to this beautiful fast break by the Bucks' bench mob pic.twitter.com/1PYHobYvYM— Bucks Film Room (Brian Sampson) (@BucksFilmRoom) December 10, 2019
That has to be the cockiest looking three of Ersan's career.— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) December 10, 2019
I mean, it has to be, right??? By the way, put that fast break in the Louvre next to the Mona Lisa.
- Is anybody else already sick of the Cream City uniforms? Because I think I am. I’ve forgotten what the other jerseys — especially the green Milwaukee ones — look like (yes, I know last night was a home game but still). I heard that last night was just the fourth of 20 times the Bucks will wear these uniforms, so I suppose we have no choice but to get used to it.