Game in Review: Milwaukee Bucks v. Orlando Magic – January 26

Jan 26, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo (5) defends Milwaukee Bucks guard Khris Middleton (22) during the first quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 26, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo (5) defends Milwaukee Bucks guard Khris Middleton (22) during the first quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Former head coach Scott Skiles returned with the Orlando Magic, but the Milwaukee Bucks come from behind for the well-earned W.

Starting Lineups – Milwaukee Bucks: Michael Carter-Williams, Khris MiddletonGiannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Greg Monroe

Orlando Magic: Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic

Want to talk about a dog fight? Cause we had a dog fight on our hands this evening with the Milwaukee Bucks playing host to the Orlando Magic. And, of course, by dog fight, I mean that both teams are mediocre under-performers in their own unique ways: Milwaukee’s entire season has been somewhat of a bust, and the Magic have lost 10 of their last 11.

What a night that sounds like, right?

Yes, indeed, this evening saw two of the most highly lauded young rosters in the league take one another on in the midst of clear growing pains for both squads. Orlando has done a solid enough job defensively to get by this year (12th in the league in defensive rating), but they’ve had trouble consistently converting on offense or grabbing enough boards to try to break from a shooting slump.

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Milwaukee’s problems for the most part reside most visibly in the inability to stop the three in any sense, and in a way the Bucks were lucky heading in that their opponent ranked just below league average in terms of shooting from distance (35.1% as a team), but anyone can get hot in a hurry in the NBA. Wide open opportunities tend to spark such hot streaks, and Milwaukee has been notorious for giving such shots to others.

Accounting for the surge in energy that was going to inevitably come with the return of head coach Jason Kidd after hip surgery, the Bucks appeared ready to expend large levels of energy to get things going offensively. It resulted in a lot of solid shot attempts, though not everything went down all that easy.

Naturally, more wide open threes for Orlando was an unfortunate sight, and all hopes were pegged on that being a limited option for the visiting team. One has to wonder how such things are still happening this late into the year, but alas, this harsh reality continued to perpetuate. Some more open shots for Orlando later, and what do you know, Bucks were down after one, 23-30.

Giannis actually looked quite aggressive with the ball in his hands, a noted change from his demeanor over the past week or so. While his jumper didn’t fall immediately, he did his best to utilize teammates and offensive sets to free himself lanes-of-attack to the basket. He’d end the half with 14 points and four rebounds.

As time went on, more corner threes rained down for the Magic. It was a shocking development to be sure.

Update: Orlando would end up starting the game going 8-11 from three. Nearly all attempts were uncontested. About halfway through the quarter, the Magic held a 16-point lead, 32-48.

Luckily, an immediate 10-2 run for Milwaukee got things back into control, and some stiffened defense opened things up. Greg Monroe had fantastic success putting on moves in the post on his way to 10 points in the half, and a late Middleton three erased all the trouble from the half, Bucks down only 53-56.

Much of the strategy for attack looked to emphasize dragging the Magic into the paint to open men waiting a few feet towards the perimeter for a hopefully open shot. That sort of worked, but it also resulted in more turnovers. Orlando looked set to match Milwaukee lost ball for lost ball, and the Bucks ended up executing where the Magic fell short, and somehow the Bucks took a 64-63 lead before the midway point. This Jabari dunk exemplified that stretch:

While Orlando labored to get jumpers to heat up once more, the starters for Milwaukee gradually began to piece it together with everyone besides MCW getting to double-digit scoring on the night. Giannis once again in particular tuned things up scoring a variety of ways to key a short Bucks charge into a solid lead, up four after three, 82-78.

Another 12 minutes, and somehow the Bucks would’ve inexplicably held onto a nice come-from-behind win. Things looked promising as well with a three-minute scoreless streak for Orlando to get things going.

However, rookie Mario Hezonja for the Magic soon got a quick five-point spurt in to make it a two possession game in favor of the home team. With 7:00 remaining, it looked like Kidd was committed to keeping his starters out there for the duration, so endurance would be key.

With that context, Milwaukee thus decided to get cold from the floor while surrendering an Evan Fournier three to tie things up at 91 with 4:30 left.

From there on out, it was a race to the bottom for both sides, and a true fight to the finish emerged as the lead changed hands with regularity as the clock ticked down.

Khris put the Bucks up one with two free throws with 1:08 left, and Giannis slammed home a putback on the ensuing possession to give the Bucks a three-point lead, 100-97. A quick Oladipo two on the other end made things interesting again, and a much-needed Jerryd Bayless corner three gave the Bucks an insurmountable lead at 103-99.

Free throws would ice it for Milwaukee who walked away with a win, 107-100

Another chance at a W rolls by this Thursday on the road in the beautiful state of Tennessee against the Memphis Grizzlies.