A return to Orlando and Markelle Fultz’s first 20-point game in nearly two years wasn’t enough to stop the Magic’s losing streak.
The Magic came back and fought until the very end but lost 109-102 to the Milwaukee Bucks, extending their losing streak to nine games.
Fultz opened the scoring with his first three-pointer of the season, though it would be the Magic’s only make of the quarter in eight attempts.
The Bucks’ fifth turnover of the opening four minutes led to Franz Wagner finding Moe Wagner for the lay-in and a 13-7 Orlando lead. Milwaukee came out of a timeout and went on a 7-0 run, capped with a three by Giannis to put the Bucks up by one. Paolo Banchero found Moe Wagner on a pair of drives to the basket to give the Magic a 21-16 lead with 3:21 left in the first.
But that would be the final points of the quarter for the Magic, which over that final stretch missed four shots and had two turnovers. Giannis Antetokounmpo hit his second three of the quarter to start a 14-0 Bucks run. That stretch ended with a Jrue Holiday three at the buzzer for a 30-21 lead.
Giannis had 12 points in the quarter as the Bucks shot 50 percent from the field. Moe Wagner scored nine points in the first on 4-for-6 shooting.
The Magic extending their scoreless drought to 5:32, with Franz Wagner finally ending it with a bucket two minutes into the second. A three by Jordan Nwora gave the Bucks their biggest lead of the half at 44-29 with 5:22 to go. Fultz responded with a pair of jumpers that pulled the Magic within 46-33 with four minutes left in the half and gave him 11 points, setting a season high.
Admiral Schofield later hit a pair of threes to cut the Bucks’ lead to 51-42 with two minutes to go in the half. A late three by AJ Green sent Milwaukee into the break with a 56-45 lead.
Giannis had 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting at the half to lead the Bucks, which shot 41.7 percent, including 9 of 22 from deep to help overcome 11 turnovers.
The Magic shot 38.1 percent in the half, making just 3 of 15 threes and committing 10 turnovers of their own. Fultz and Moe Wagner led the way with 11 points each. Paolo Banchero had nine points and five assists, helping Orlando to record assists on 14 of 16 made field goals. Schofield, with his two made threes, was the only Magic reserve to make a shot in the first half as the bench combined to go 2-for-14, including 0-5 by Terrence Ross and 0-for-3 by Cole Anthony.
Fultz’s impressive shooting performance continued in the third as he drained his second three of the game to make it 65-53. That sparked a 7-0 Orlando run that brought the Magic within eight (Fultz even launched another three with a chance to cut it to five, exciting the crowd, but his shot was short). Bol Bol later intercepted a pass and went coast-to-coast with some razzle-dazzle ball-handling but was unable to finish at the rim while not getting a call on what appeared to be contact.
That momentum swing ended with Pat Connaughton rattling in a three at the other end to extend the lead to 74-62. Connaughton soon added another corner three, and after another near three-minute Magic drought, the Bucks’ lead reached as many as 19 late in the third.
Franz Wagner scored 10 straight points for the Magic in the fourth while pulling Orlando within 10. But with the Magic focused on stopping Giannis inside at the other end, he kicked the ball out to Green, who hit a pair of threes to help maintain the lead.
A three by Franz capped a 7-0 run that pulled the Magic within single digits at 96-89 with 5:47 left.
Franz later cut it down to six with a bucket inside, but Sandro Mamukelashvili answered with a three as the shot clock was winding down. A pair of free throws by Moe Wagner and Terrence Ross’ first three of the game then pulled Orlando within 101-97 with 2:20 left. A charge call on Giannis with two minutes left was challenged and overturned, fouling Moe Wagner out of the game, and he hit one of two free throws for a five-point lead. Caleb Houstan then missed an open corner three, got his own rebound and kicked it out to Ross, who missed an open straightaway three.
That was the Magic’s last gasp as Giannis closed the game out. Antetokounmpo finished with 34 points, going 12-for-21 from the field and 8-for-11 from the line, and 13 rebounds and five assists. Holiday added 15 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
Franz Wagner led the Magic with 25 points, 15 of which came in the fourth quarter. Banchero struggled from the field, going 4-for-16, but went 12-for-15 from the line to finish with 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Moe Wagner added 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Fultz had his first 20-plus point game since Dec. 27, 2020. He finished with 20 points on 8-for-17 shooting, going 2 of 4 from deep.
Quiet nights for Bol Bol, who had just two points and two rebounds in 19 minutes, and Cole Anthony, who was scoreless on 0-for-9 shooting. Orlando overall shot just 36.6 percent and made only 8 of 32 three-point attempts.
The Magic will look to avoid a double-digit losing streak on Wednesday when they host the Los Angeles Clippers.