Ryan Anderson hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 18.1 seconds to play, Jameer Nelson drilled the clinching free throws, and the Orlando Magic rallied to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks by a 93-90 final on Monday, their third come-from-behind victory over Milwaukee in nine days. Dwight Howard tallied 28 points, 16 boards, four assists, three steals, and a block in the win, helping Orlando withstand a balanced attack that saw five Bucks score in double-figures, led by Brandon Jennings' 22 points.
The Magic fell behind after one period, 29-27, as a familiar problem cropped up: turnovers. Milwaukee converted six Orlando turnovers into 13 points, while committing only one turnover for no points itself. Small forward Carlos Delfino tore the Magic off the dribble, dishing five assists in the period en route to finishing with a career-high-tying eight. The turnovers marred an otherwise strong offensive showing, with the Magic shooting 10-of-17 from the floor.
They managed to control the turnovers in the second period, but the offense went in the tank anyway: Orlando missed 16 of its 24 shots, and none of its eight makes were assisted. But the Magic's defense stiffened, limiting the Bucks to 6-of-22 shooting, with Mike Dunleavy accounting for three of those makes on just six attempts.
The game didn't get real juicy, though, until the second half.
|Green denotes a stat better than the team's season average;
red denotes a stat worse than the team's season average.
The Bucks opened the third period promisingly, and a half-step quicker than Orlando did. They got their first two buckets on easy layups, earning and-one chances on both, before the Magic got their act in gear. And whenever the Bucks managed to make a bit of a run, Jameer Nelson put an end to it. Though he's having the worst season of his career to date, Nelson still shows flashes of the form that's made him so valuable to the team during the Stan Van Gundy era. He sank three shots in the period, including a trey to tie the score at 57, while bottling up Jennings effectively and aggressively.
As one might have imagined, based on the first two meetings between the teams this season, Monday's contest went down to the wire. Neither team led by more than five points in the fourth period, which featured four lead changes and two ties. And once again, Orlando came through when the game mattered most, albeit not always in the most aesthetically pleasing way. A jumper from Glen Davis, two foul shots from DeAndre Liggins, and a Howard layup in transition off a beautiful feed from Davis helped Orlando claim a five-point edge, but Milwaukee countered with eight straight points to re-take the lead and momentum. Orlando's possessions during that Bucks run? Three misses from Von Wafer, including a deep three-point attempt early in the shot clock with Howard calling for the ball and having one foot in the paint.
Van Gundy yanked Wafer during the next break in play.
So the Magic found themselves down five with a little more than three seconds to play, and Anderson--quiet all night, soundly outplayed by Davis off the bench--came to their aid. He fought on the offensive boards to make a tip-in, and later drew two free-throw attempts to help Orlando's run, splitting the pair. And he found himself in the right place at the right time on the most crucial possession of the game. Nelson chased down a long rebound in the deep right corner and found Anderson wide-open at the top of the three-point arc. With no hesitation, Anderson let fly, and connected to put Orlando ahead by one.
Instant replay helped Orlando avert disaster on the ensuing Bucks possession. Milwaukee could have killed the clock and taken the last shot, but Jennings fumbled the ball out of bounds. The initial ruling was Milwaukee ball, as the referees believed the ball glanced off the heel of Turkoglu's shoe. Replay showed it hadn't, giving Orlando possession with 12.2 seconds to play. Nelson drilled the ensuing free throws, the Bucks failed to connect on any of their desperation shots or tip attempts, and the Magic escaped Bradley Center with their ninth game in 12 tries.
Davis' strong play off the bench--he finished with 12 points and six boards in 23 minutes--was the real highlight. Orlando's bench has cratered all season, and with Redick in the starting lineup due to Jason Richardson's injury, it desperately needed someone to provide scoring punch. Davis did that, efficiently, while contributing on the glass as well.
And Howard got the chance to "close," something for which he's advocated throughout the year. As a center, he can't close games the same way wings and points can--he needs his teammates to give him the ball, whereas wings and points have the ball to begin with--but against Milwaukee he showed what he might be able to do when given the chance. Howard shot 2-of-5 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the foul line in the fourth period, feasting on the Bucks' undersized and shorthanded front line.