Denton: Magic vs. Bucks Analysis (1/31/14)

   

``My job is to always get ready when I get in the game,’’ said Lamb, who hit all three of his shots, two of which were 3-pointers. ``I don’t know when I’m going to get in, but I have to be ready and perform for my teammates. I just have to make shots and get my teammates involved.’’

Veteran forward Caron Butler led the Bucks with 20 points. Promising rookie Giannis Antetokounm scored all 15 of his points in the second half when the game was already a rout.

Orlando will be in action on Super Bowl Sunday for a fifth time in their 25-year history. And for a third time, they will be in Boston as prelude to the NFL’s championship game. The Magic and Celtics will tip off at 1 p.m. in what will be the only NBA game of the day.

Orlando was locked in and sharp in the early going, making 16 of their first 26 shots (61.5 percent) to blow out of a 22-point lead. The Magic had a commanding 67-46 at intermission by playing some of its best basketball of the season. The 67 points were not only the most in a first half this season, but also the most in any half all year, topping the 66 scored against Brooklyn in November.

``Tonight I thought we played really well as a team, in particularly in the first half to open up the game,’’ Afflalo said. ``We’ll be tested this weekend with two physical defensive teams in Boston and Indiana, so we’ll see how our playmaking abilities hold up.’’

Afflalo played like he had something to prove early on by attacking the Bucks to get open shots and free throw attempts. He had 14 points in the first quarter alone by making three of four shots and six of seven free throws. And when Afflalo drilled the 3-pointer just before the second-quarter horn, it gave him 17 first-half points.

``I thought he was ready to go from the beginning of the game. And that’s not to say that he usually isn’t, but he really wanted to play tonight,’’ Vaughn said. ``He just had a steely want in his eyes to go out and play extremely well. He made shots and another efficient night for him.’’

Playing his second game after missing more than three weeks with a concussion, Vucevic was aggressive and effective early on. He had 16 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday in Toronto and picked up where he left off on Friday.

Harris and Harkless gave the Magic nice lifts off the bench in the first half. Harris had eight points early on against his former team, while Harkless twice swiped the ball and turned them into points. He had 10 points in the first two quarters, including a nifty layup where he lost control of the ball and still had wherewithal to tip the ball in.

Vaughn said he and the team didn’t make a big deal about Afflalo being left off the all-star team on Friday morning at the team’s shoot around practice. But Vaughn can see the snub serving as a motivating factor for the already driven Afflalo. Vaughn hopes that the disappointment burns inside of Afflalo the rest of the season and drives him to keep improving on what has already been a career year.

``We’re all human and the last thing that I told him was this second half of the season to continue to let the league know how good you are,’’ Vaughn said of his message to the standout shooting guard. ``He’s a guy that takes pride in his craft and whether or not he says he was trying to send a message, I’m not sure. But I just loved the way that he played. His focus was extremely diligent tonight.’’

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