Milwaukee Bucks overcome ugly bench game, ride starters to take down Orlando Magic

Dec 21, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard MarJon Beauchamp (3) dunks a basket
Dec 21, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard MarJon Beauchamp (3) dunks a basket / Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Aiming to even up the regular season series after losing in November, the Milwaukee Bucks played host to the Orlando Magic.

These two teams went at it for 48 minutes in what was a tough, physical contest. Elbows were thrown, players were struck in the face, and a whole lot of players were sent to the floor. After enduring that, it wasn't pretty, but the Bucks managed to gut out a victory over another top Eastern Conference foe, taking down the Magic 118-114.

Milwaukee Bucks overcome ugly bench game, ride starters to take down Orlando Magic

First and foremost, the Bucks did not get much from the bench in this one. Milwaukee got 21 points from their reserves. Meanwhile, Orlando's reserve Mortiz Wagner scored 21 points by himself. Not a single Buck could get it going in the scoring department, which hurt the Bucks quite a bit and forced them to rely heavily on their starters.

Giannis Antetokounmpo took charge, leading the way with 37 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists. This was not an easy game for the Greek Freak, as he was met with a physical defense, primarily in the form of Jonathan Isaac, who blocked him twice on the same possession at one point. Orlando made things as tough as possible for Giannis, but he still managed to piece together a good game.

Damian Lillard had a hard time finding his stroke overall, shooting just 5-of-17 overall, but he was an efficient 4-of-8 from behind the arc. Again, due to the physical defense, the point guard earned 10 free throw attempts, all of which he sunk. With eight assists and five rebounds, Lillard managed to overcome a tough shooting night to clock in another solid performance.

Brook Lopez continued his stretch of excellent two-way play by tallying 14 points on 71.4 percent shooting, two steals, and two blocked shots. He was a team-high +17 in 37 minutes, indicating his impact was on the positive side of things. Fans thought the Bucks may have overpaid for Lopez in free agency with his huge new deal, but thus far, he's been completely worth it.

Khris Middleton continues to build himself back up, having finished with 14 points of his own. He's mainly still looking to find consistence with that 3-point shot, having made just two of his seven tries in this one. With four rebounds, three assists, and even a rare blocked shot, it was a good all-around game for the forward.

Circling back to the bench, Bobby Portis cooled down after his recent hot streak and finished with just six points on eight shot attempts. Pat Connaughton had a solid game with eight points, eight rebounds, and two assists, which was a positive sign. MarJon Beauchamp had a couple of nice plays and finished with five points. Cameron Payne made just one of his four shots and had two points.

It's rare to voice complaints after a loss, but a lot of fans were curious as to why Andre Jackson Jr. only logged six and a half minutes in this one. The rookie has been an excellent piece lately, and it seemed like he was bound to see a more prominent role. He's someone who needs to be in the mix game by game moving forward. He's shown too many flashes not to be.

On the opposite side, the Wagner brothers were on fire. Franz Wagner had a team-high 29 points, while Mortiz Wagner had 21 off of the bench. Paolo Banchero had 23 points, Cole Anthony had 18, and Gary Harris had 14 as the Orlando Magic got a handful of good performances.

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