One night after an ugly loss to the Indiana Pacers, the Orlando Magic looked to turn the tables in Milwaukee against the struggling Bucks. The two sides played a closely contested game, with the Bucks gutting out a tight 97-91 victory.
Early on, both teams were locked in on the defensive end, swarming on every possession. As the quarter wore on, both teams began to settle in and find a groove on their respective offensive ends. The conference foes seemingly traded buckets for the remainder of the quarter, with the Magic getting the slight edge late off of a Victor Oladipo layup. Interestingly, coach James Borrego only used six players in the first quarter, only removing Nikola Vucevic for Aaron Gordon midway through the quarter. All six Magic men scored, led by Elfrid Payton's eight. Nine Bucks saw early action, with Ersan Ilyasova leading the way with six.
After another slow start on the offensive side, both teams began to find their grooves. Continuing to go back-and-forth, neither team was able to grab a lead of more than three in the quarter, with the Magic leading, briefly, 42-39. Behind a confident Payton, the Magic picked apart the Bucks second ranked defense. The Magic were unable to put together stops of their own, however, allowing Milwaukee to score at will. Five Magic players finished with eight or more points in the half, led by Payton's 12. Khris Middelton took advantage of his size advantage, pushing his total to 16 points and five assists at the half.
Out of halftime, the Magic continued to find some easy offense, while also showing an improved level on the defensive end. With their improvement on the defensive end, the Magic were able to push their lead out to a game high 10 just past the midway point of the quarter. The Bucks answered, however, going on a 12-to-2 run to tie the game up. The Magic clearly appeared frustrated by some no calls they were getting, namely on blocked dunk attempts from Harris and Payton. Vucevic stormed to the lead for the Magic, scoring eight in the quarter to push his total to 17 for the game. Middleton continued to lead the Bucks, finishing with 20 after three.
With both teams improving on the defensive end in the third, the Magic had to find a way to make the proper adjustments on the offensive end. After watching Milwaukee go on a 19-to-4 run, spanning the midway point of the third to early in the fourth, the Magic began to find ways to score again. A trio of three-pointers from Luke Ridnour, Victor Oladipo and Channing Frye got the ball rolling again for the Magic. Following a layup from Harris that tied the game, Michael Carter-Williams was fouled by Payton driving the bucket. The former Rookie of the Year made a pair, with Harris blowing a layup on the other end. After forcing a miss, the Bucks got an offensive rebound and dunk, putting them up four with 20 seconds remaining, all but ending the game.
All five Bucks finished in double figures, led by Middleton's career-high tying 30. Ilyasova finished with 12, with both Carter-Williams and Giannis Antetokounmpo finishing with 11. Zaza Pachulia finished with a 10-point, 12-rebound double-double to round out the Bucks in double figures.
Five Magic men also finished in double figures, led by Vucevic's 19 points and 14 rebounds. Harris finished with 17, with both Oladipo and Payton scoring 14. Frye rounded out the group, finishing with 13 off the bench.