Giannis Antetokounmpo’s steal with under 30 seconds remaining sealed Milwaukee’s first win over the Magic in three tries this season.
The Bucks avenged two earlier losses to the Magic this season with a 104-100 victory at the Bradley Center on Tuesday.
The win snapped a four-game, pre-All-Star break losing streak, though its just Milwaukee’s third in 2014. The Bucks were paced by the best all-around performance of Nate Wolters’ career, as the rookie posted 15 points, seven rebounds eight assists and two steals. Wolters shot 6-of-13 from the field and hit his only three-pointer of the game with 29 seconds remaining to give Milwaukee a 99-97 advantage that would not be relinquished.
Following Wolters’ three, Giannis Antetokounmpo came up with a steal and was fouled, connecting on one of two free throws. Arron Afflalo missed a tough three on Orlando’s ensuing possession, and Ersan Ilyaosva corralled the rebound and hit two free throws to secure the victory.
Milwaukee jumped out to a rare first quarter lead and held a 53-47 advantage at halftime. Orlando answered with a 32-point third quarter and came back to tie the game at 91 with 6:09 remaining. The Magic took a 97-96 lead with 50 seconds left, but Wolters’ shot ultimately sealed their fate.
Brandon Knight, who suffered a laceration to his foot while getting out of the shower Tuesday afternoon (couldn’t make that up), started at shooting guard and scored 18 points to go with seven assists. Though he went just 3-of-13 from the field, Knight made all 12 of his free throw attempts. Khris Middleton chipped in 12 points (5-10 FG) and John Henson added nine with 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks.
The real story, however, was the spark Caron Butler provided off the bench. The veteran, in his first game back from a sprained ankle, hit 7-of-13 three-pointers en route to a team-high 21 points, 18 of which came in the first half. Butler also added seven rebounds in 29 minutes.
It was the usual suspects leading the way for Orlando, with Arron Afflalo’s 21 points and three three-pointers pacing the Magic. Nic Vucevic added 19 points and nine rebounds, while Jameer Nelson added nine points and a season-high 13 assists. Tobias Harris and E’Twaun Moore contributed 16 and 17 points, respectively. Harris also pulled down nine rebounds in addition to one blocked shot.
– Depsite being listed as active and available, O.J. Mayo remained firmly planted on the Milwaukee bench. That’s now ten straight games missed for Mayo, who had a bout with the flu at the end of January. Mayo is rumored to be on the table as the trade deadline approaches, so it’s possible Milwaukee is simply holding him out to avoid injury or hurting his already diminished value.
– Mandatory Greek Freak update: Giannis Antetokounmpo had an impressive all-around game, putting up eight points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in 27 minutes off the bench. Antetokounmpo’s production had been rather inconsistent over the past month, but this was one of his better performances since moving to the bench. Larry Drew showed trust in him to play late in the fourth quarter, and the rookie responded by hitting a big free throw to make it a two possession game with under 30 seconds remaining.
– Orlando’s Kyle O’Quinn missed both of his free throw attempts and did not score but finished with seven assists, nine rebounds and two blocks in 21 minutes. That’s not easy to do as a power forward.
– Arron Afflalo killed Milwaukee in both of the teams’ previous matchups, but the Bucks were able to keep Orlando’s leading scorer in check. He got his 21 points – right around his season average of 19.3 – but was limited to just one rebound and one assist.
– Gary Neal played 20 minutes and scored six points on 3-of-7 shooting. He remains perhaps the most likely Buck to be traded before Thursday’s deadline. That is all.
– Victor Oladipo leads all rookies in scoring this season, though he was held to just six points on 3-of-7 shooting in 22 minutes.
Points: Afflalo (21), Butler (21)
Rebounds: three tied (9), Henson (10)
Assists: Nelson (13), Wolters (8)
Blocks: O’Quinn/Moore (2), Henson (2)