Cornered: Magic 97 – Bucks 90

Orlando Magic 97 Final
Recap | Box Score
90 Milwaukee Bucks
Ersan Ilyasova, PF 27 MIN | 7-13 FG | 2-5 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +6 +/-

Head coach Jason Kidd said something after Milwaukee’s loss in Atlanta recently about the team needing to make sure it was playing with energy every night. He said he’d find the guys who would. He’ll always have that in Ilyasova. It’s never a mystery how it happened when you look up and see Ilyasova putting up numbers. Tip shots around the hoop. Made jumpers. Rebounds he fights to keep alive. A couple charges taken. Typical Ersan stuff. He was at it again on Saturday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 28 MIN | 3-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -18 +/-

The Magic are full of wings with size and decent to impressive athleticism, which seemed to give Giannis problems at times. He was blocked three times. Additionally, he got into foul trouble and just generally didn’t make the same impact on this game he’s made so often over the past few months.

Zaza Pachulia, C 23 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +9 +/-

Zaza had some problems trying to step out on Nikola Vucevic who made himself comfortable stepping out hitting elbow jumpers. He made a positive impact again with his passing, as he often does, but ultimately it seemed like he was significantly less effective than John Henson all game.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 34 MIN | 4-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 9 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 8 PTS | +7 +/-

MCW finished the first half 0-7 from the field, but he seemed productive in an odd way. He was driving and finding teammates and seemed to be playing with a great deal of energy. In the second half he started hitting some floaters, short jumpers and layups. He didn’t have a matchup he could exploit in the post quite as much, as the Magic were quicker to double and Elfrid Payton has decent size and strength at the position.

Khris Middleton, SG 34 MIN | 6-16 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | +5 +/-

Forcing turnovers is a big part of Milwaukee’s defensive success and Middleton is as opportunistic as anyone on the Bucks when it comes to starting breaks with defense. Each of his steals resulted in a fast break opportunity, though only one resulted in an easy basket. His hands are active, but rarely in a way where he’s gambling. He’s just 3-23 from deep over his past five games though, which has been tough for Milwaukee.

Jared Dudley, SF 22 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -14 +/-

His jumper appears to be coming back around.

John Henson, C 25 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -16 +/-

Defensively he was very impactful as a shot-blocker and he did the same things he’s been successful at all season around the rim on offense.

O.J. Mayo, SG 32 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-1 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -3 +/-

He was pressed into extensive duty again as Antetokounmpo battled foul trouble and an initial injury and played well again. He had one nice fast break where he faked a pass, drew a foul and finished at the time. His pass fake has to be respected, as he’s one of Milwaukee most committed passers. Time and again he gets into the paint and finds not only a teammate, but a teammate with a great opportunity for a basket.

Two Things We Saw

  1. Milwaukee struggled to contain corner threes all game long and it came back to bite them late when the Magic hit two wide open corner threes in the last two minutes. Kidd talked about it after the game and acknowledged it’s been an ongoing problem of late. He didn’t seem totally sure if it was attributable to something the Bucks were doing or adjustments other teams were making to Milwaukee’s defense, but he said the team would need to get it addressed. He spoke about the importance of the corner three and how it is virtually as valuable as a layup. Here’s the Magic’s 3-point shot chart for the game:Shotchart_1428263662461
  2. This was not a good loss. It probably won’t impact seeding or the Bucks making the playoffs or anything, but the Bucks have really lost the ability to take care of business against bad teams over the second half. Milwaukee led this game by as much as 12 points, but could never really blow the game open, often because they were giving up open 3-pointers and failing to connect on any themselves. The Bucks went 0-9 from three in the second half.

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