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Milwaukee vs. Orlando: Bucks Blow Past Magic

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This one was never in doubt

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Orlando Magic Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks snapped their three-game losing streak with a blowout victory over the Orlando Magic, 124-87. With the starters back in the lineup, Milwaukee opened up a sizable 57-38 advantage by halftime, due largely to a 9-20 half from behind the arc. Orlando, meanwhile, was just 4-20 from deep two quarters through. Milwaukee maintained a dominating lead in the third and widened the gap to start the fourth and call it an early night for Bud’s key players.

What We Learned

That the Orlando Magic are in prime position to tank? Whoo boy is that roster ready to drop games down the stretch. These games are always tough to read much into, but we did learn that in some of these contest against lesser teams, a scoring bench can go a long way. Neither Khris Middleton (21 points) nor Jrue Holiday (12 points) were necessarily angling to dominate this tilt, and nobody else in the starting lineup was on an outrageous hot streak. Instead, they spread the scoring wealth around and the Bucks bench delivered in all the ways we’ve seen them be successful throughout this year. Portis hit his triples (16 points, 10 reb on 12 shots) and scored inside, Forbes was frisky and Thanasis capitalized with his cutting. Ensuring those fellas show up could help the Bucks snag some victories this week against weaker competition, even if Giannis continues to sit these games out.

Three Pointers

Khris Middleton made shots! Sure, it was technically only a few more made field goals than his paltry six against the Dallas Mavericks, but 8-13 with 21 points is a wonderfully efficient night. What I really appreciated was him driving to the tin from the tip. In the first, he already drew a foul and took more free throw attempts than during the Dallas game when he seemed to fall in love with the floater. I like seeing him taking it to the rack. On top of that, he was certainly orchestrating the offense and had one of his real pretty bounce passes to a cutting Donte in the second. Middleton also moved into 11th on the all-time Bucks scoring list, passing Terry Cummings. Here was the shot that put him on top:

Bryn Forbes did some non-Bryn Forbes stuff. Forbes has been a knockdown shooter all season, with an unconscious ability to shoot almost anytime the ball touches his hand. Well, tonight, the Magic’s defense apparently provided the perfect canvas for him to stretch his wings. We had a rare Bryn Forbes assist sighting in the first! He dribbled into the arc on his own and was cognizant of Portis wide open above the break for a kickout and easy trey. I much prefer that type of Bryn Forbes over the tough fadeaway midrange jumpers he occasionally lofts. In the third, he drove to the basket and finished for an and-one. I like Forbes with just a teensy bit more passing juice in him, but we got a bit more razzle-dazzle in a game overall that sorely needed it. He ended with 11 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.

The defensive rebounding was solid. It was a recurring theme during Milwaukee’s losses last week, but in this one their defensive rebounding percentage (80.4%) was far closer to their season average (75.0%). Sure, there were still a few frustrating opportunities where Orlando grabbed a ball and the Bucks didn’t show enough hustle, but it was still encouraging to see them get back to a reasonable performance on one of Bud’s staple stats.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • It was nice to see Pat Connaughton propped up in the corner after getting the starting nod in this one. He’s been on a cold streak of late, and his first shot rattled in. He was just 1-17 from deep in his last five games. Hopefully going 3-3 in this one starts another spell of hot shooting.
  • Brook Lopez, normally a standout in Orlando, was quiet with just nine points on nine shots.
  • I have a real love/hate relationship with Milwaukee’s fondness for the long-ball transition passes...but I guess tonight I love ‘em. Donte made a really slick full-courter to Connaughton in transition for a finish in the second period.
  • Jordan Nwora got regular rotation minutes in this one and was able to knock down a midrange, pull-up jumper, and showed his usual scoring array late against the backups. We also saw him plant himself in the corner for a quick trigger triple while working with the starters. How he’ll morph into his role as a role player on this team is always an intriguing enough subplot in blowouts like this.
  • Portis had a sneaky rough shooting game against Charlotte, 5-15, and came off the bench to start this game against a smaller Orlando lineup. He made hay during his brief time on the court with 16 points and was 4-6 from deep.
  • Thanasis continued to look decent, and what really stood out from this late play Mitchell is referencing wasn’t the hustle (that’s a given), but the calm he showed in pulling it out and finding Merrill on a cross-court pass for an open triple.
  • How does everyone feel about the Steinhafels ad that plays during free throws? Personally, I love the silly jams and low-fi twirling furniture as a distraction from the blandness of a free throw routine? What say you?

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