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Bucks vs. Magic: Milwaukee Makes Orlando Disappear

The Bucks conclude their homestand 6-0

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NBA: Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The home winning streak is now sitting at 15 games, as the Milwaukee Bucks knocked off the Orlando Magic, 118-114.

Game Summary

Coming into the game, Giannis was listed as questionable due to illness and a right midfoot sprain. However, he sure didn’t look questionable to start this one. Immediately, he erupted for a quick nine points. Orlando would lock up on their defense, though. They siphoned Milwaukee off midway through the quarter and eventually took the lead, carrying a 31-28 lead into the second.

Both teams would land punches throughout the second. Orlando was fueled by the efforts of Mo Wagner off the bench, who carried over the momentum he started to generate in the first quarter. His 15 points kept the Magic well in it at the break as they were down by just three at the break, 59-56.

Separation started to appear for the Bucks to begin the third, as their lead jumped up to 15 at one point. The Magic would do enough to slice it to single digits headed into the final quarter of regulation, 91-82.

The peskiness of Orlando was quite apparent in the fourth. No matter what the Bucks threw at them, they wouldn’t go belly up. After fouling to extend the game for what seemed like forever, the final whistle finally blew with the Bucks victorious, 118-114.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was his typical self, fueling the way with a game-high 37 points. He mixed in ten rebounds and flirted with a triple-double with six assists. Damian Lillard made an impact with 24 points on the evening. Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton matched one another with 14 points each.

Franz Wagner led the way for Orlando with 29 points. His brother Mo was efficient as well with 21 points and eight boards. Palo Banchero had 23 points of his own.

The Bucks now travel to New York where they’ll take on the Knicks on Saturday.

What Did We Learn?

The Bucks won this one ugly. It wasn’t the prettiest by any means, but they were still able to get the job done. There’s gonna be times in this league where you can’t win flashy, and last night was one of those nights. Postgame, Adrian Griffin mentioned just how big it was that they won tonight due to the versatility. It’s so crucial to be able to win more than one way in this league. Come the playoffs, it’ll be even more crucial. Everyone was very pleased with the performance in an obscure, unusual game like last night.

Three Observations

The Bucks still feel that there’s significant room for improvement.

Up and down the line, nobody is fully satisfied within the Milwaukee Bucks organization. That’s not a bad thing at all. Everyone is pleased with the current record of 21-7, but acknowledge that things aren’t fully clicking and that it’ll still take some time. We’re 28 games right now and that’s definitely apparent. As former Brew Hoop co-editor Mitchell Maurer said in our group chat, the Bucks are already past the 20 wins before 10 losses and are on their way to 40 wins before 20 losses as well. As for what the players think? Here’s Giannis and Dame had to say.

Giannis:

“We gotta get better. We are good, but we have to get better. There’s things that have to happen offensively and defensively. Like, it has to be automatic. Everybody has to be working in sync. Everyone has to be on the same page. We are on the same page at times, but at times, we’re not on the same page. And our talent helps us, obviously. And it’s good to be able to be talented and still play an ugly game and still win. We have the steps that we have to get. And I think there’s going to be a time that we are going to believe. Like, everybody believes that we are good and that we can win in this locker room, but there’s a moment that we believe. Like, we really believe that this shit is ours. We are not there yet. It’s going to take a long time for us to get there. Maybe, we might not even get there. But, let’s see for the next 25 games how we go. For a team that’s not on the same page, 21-7, that’s pretty good. A new coach, couple of new players, it’s not bad. We’re still not there but I don’t know. Me personally, I don’t care about the record. I don’t care if we finish 16-22 or if we finish 65-17. It has nothing to do with what the goal is. The goal is to be on the same page, work on these things offensively and defensively, start believing in our gameplan, start believing in ourselves, start believing in our ability and know what everybody can do…what Dame is good at, what Brook is good at, what I’m good at, and try to put ourselves in position to be efficient and effective in the game. Hopefully, you click when it matters most. Now, don’t get me wrong, I try to play to win. But, beating San Antonio and beating the Orlando Magic is good because we can go home, drink some wine – not me personally, I don’t drink. You know, the saying, drink some wine, eat some steak and sleep good. But at the end of the day, it’s a goal in the back of our head. I think it’s in everybody’s head that we want to be there at the end so we have to keep on working. We have to keep on working for sure.”

And Dame:

“I think we’re trending upwards. I think defensively, we’re still having some miscommunications, making some mistakes. But I think we’ve been defending a lot better than we had been starting the season. I think offensively, we’re finding ourselves, sort of establishing how we play and how it’s gonna work for everybody. And it’s still not perfect on either end. But we’re finding ways to win games and a lot of times, I’ve been in situations where you win one, you lose one. You win one, you lose one. So we’ve been able to win consistently as we’ve been learning and going through the process…and that’s how you want to have it. People are more open to taking criticism, instructions, or whatever when you’re winning. I think because of the adversity that we’ve been able to go through that we’ve been able to get better and we just gotta stay with that and I think that we’ll get to where we want to get as a team.”

One thing that’s clear? The Bucks are confident that they’ll get there.

Even on a night where he wasn’t fully healthy, Giannis was still amazingly effective.

Giannis was listed on the injury report with a right midfoot sprain leading up to this one. But, you would’ve never been able to guess. Right out of the gates, he shot out like a pinball, immediately rattling off nine points. Postgame, he said how it wasn’t his intention to do that, but he was just being aggressive. All in all, he tallied his eighth game of the season with 30+ points, 10+ rebounds and 5+ assists (4th-most in the NBA) as he finished with 37 points, ten rebounds, six assists, and two blocks. He’s 5th in NBA history with 111 games scoring 30+ points with 10+ rebounds and 5+ assists. Not bad for a guy who was questionable this morning.

The history continues for the Bucks.

It’s been quite the list of accomplishments these past few games for the Milwaukee Bucks, and it continued last night. First, Khris Middleton passed Sidney Moncrief (2,689) for third on the Bucks’ all-time assists list. He now trails Paul Pressey (3,272) for second. Then, after reaching the 20,000-point mark for his career last game, Damian Lillard moved into the top 50 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list last night. He’s now 49th on the league’s all-time scoring list (20,058), passing Antawn Jamison (20,042) and Tom Chambers (20,049).

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Khris Middleton continues to be QB1 of the Milwaukee Bucks:
  • We all know how Andre Jackson Jr. has continued to impress during his rookie season. Pre-game, I asked Adrian Griffin what type of player he envisions him having the ability to blossom into:

“I always say you never know how far hard work can take you. He works extremely hard on his game, extremely hard on the things that he knows he has to develop. He’s shooting threes. Before and after practice, he’s always putting in extra time on his game. I say he’s gonna go really far just because two things I always look at are your work ethic and your character. He has a great work ethic and he’s such a high character guy. And he listens. A lot of the veteran guys really gravitate to him because he soaks up a lot of the knowledge that they give him. They want to see him succeed. All our veteran guys grab him before and after practice and you see them over there talking to him, even during the games. They just love a player like that that competes every possession, that lays it all on the line. He’s a team-first guy, extremely coachable. It kinds of sticks out a little bit on this roster because of his athleticism. This is a guy that can jump to the moon. He can guard multiple positions. He’s kind of like what the league has gravitated to as far as that athletic wing that can do multiple things on the court. He just finds ways to impact the game. That’s why I love him out there. He’s a winner. He’s just trying to find ways to help his team win.”

  • What a highlight from MarJon Beauchamp:
  • In his pre-game availability, Magic Coach Jamahl Mosley mentioned how Giannis has really improved on shifting around defenders that are taking charges. He was encouraging his players to anticipate those moves. That advice didn’t really help, as Giannis was able to do it multiple times.
  • That home cooking sure was nice for the Bucks. They’ve now won a season-high six consecutive games and finished undefeated on their season-long six-game homestand. It’s just the second time in franchise history that Milwaukee has gone undefeated on a homestand of six or more games, joining the undefeated eight-game homestand it had from Jan. 3-21, 1973.

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