Denton's Dish: The 5th Quarter (3/10/14)

By John Denton
March 10, 2014

MILWAUKEE – The Orlando Magic seemed poised to equal last season’s win total when they raced to an early 18-point lead on Monday night, but they fell apart in the second half of a frustrating 105-98 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Here are five takeaways from the Magic’s confounding defeat to the Bucks at Milwaukee’s MBO Harris Bradley Center:

KEY MOMENT OF THE GAME: With the Magic clinging to a 71-68 lead going into the fourth quarter, Milwaukee guard Brandon Knight scored nine straight points to swing the momentum in favor of the Bucks.

Knight had two free throws, a driving layup, a dunk on the fastbreak and a 3-pointer to vault Milwaukee into a 77-71 lead.

The 3-pointer was his only one of the night in nine tries. The Magic tried Jameer Nelson, Victor Oladipo and E’Twaun Moore on Knight in the second half, but none of them had a chance after getting routinely run off screens. Oladipo, who had 12 points, four assists and three rebounds in limited minutes (19) after returning from an ankle injury, was very upset following the loss, remaining on the Magic’s bench several minutes after his teammates started to leave the court.

``He only made one three, but it started from his penetration and getting to the rim,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``It was a similar formula to the last time when we were here and they were just getting to the paint and making us react to their penetration. Give him credit for continuing to put his head down and getting to the rim.’’

Orlando went down as much as 14 points in the fourth quarter, before mounting a bit of a run to make things interesting. However, the Bucks salted the game away with some clutch free throw shooting.

TURNING POINT, PART II: Eighty seconds into the second quarter, Orlando had a commanding 31-13 lead by sharing the ball and running Milwaukee into a timeout. Tobias Harris, who was in a reserve role for a second straight game, played especially well early on and had five straight points to give the Magic their seemingly safe 18-point lead.

From there, however, the game turned around 180 degrees and it was the Bucks who were the aggressors. Milwaukee ripped off a 21-10 run behind the strong up-tempo play from Ramon Sessions and Knight.

The Bucks had 32 points in the second quarter to fuel their momentum in the second half. Milwaukee poured in 60 points after halftime to pull away for its second win of the season against the Magic.

MAGIC MAN OF NIGHT: Fresh off a 23-point performance on Saturday in San Antonio, Harris came off the bench again Monday and had an instant impact.

Four minutes into the game, Harris left the bench and rode a stationary bicycle for 10 minutes to get his legs loose and body warm. And not long after checking in, Harris ripped off a string of five straight field goal makes. He had 11 points early on by converting Orlando’s last three field goals of the first quarter and two of the first three baskets of the second period.

``I had 11 (points), but it wasn’t like they were doing anything,’’ Harris said. ``We just weren’t moving the ball. I’m the type who feeds off team basketball, moving and keeping it going. But we’ve got to play team basketball if we want to win games.’’

STATISTIC OF THE NIGHT:: Orlando was locked in offensively early on and was moving the ball exceptionally well. On their first 11 field goals, the Magic had 10 assists. And when Maurice Harkless converted a layup early in the second quarter, it gave Orlando 11 assists on their first 12 buckets.

However, Orlando had just 12 assists the rest of the game as the ball movement and player movement ground to a halt. The Magic shot just 45 percent in the third quarter with five turnovers. And they had five more turnovers in the fourth period that led to three Milwaukee baskets.

NO MOTIVATION NEEDED: With the Magic and Bucks both well out of the playoff race, Vaughn was asked before the game by media from Milwaukee what measures he’s taken to make sure that his team keeps its edge. Vaughn was a bit incredulous at the query and said it was predominantly the responsibility of the players to be self-motivated.

Vaughn vowed he wants to keep the approach the same over the last 17 games of the season and he hopes that his players will continue to work to get better by the day.

``This is what they do for a living – I keep it as simple as that. I coach for a living and they play for a living,’’ Vaughn said. ``What I ask of them, there’s nothing different than what I asked of them on the first day of (the season). That won’t change. We’re consistent in our approach and it will always be that way whether we’re in a playoff hunt, championship hunt or fighting uphill to find a spot in this league – it doesn’t change. It should change our approach and how we mentally prepare ourselves. This is what we do.’’