Postgame Report: Magic vs. Bucks (2/18/14)

By John Denton
Feb. 18, 2014

MILWAUKEE – Hoping to build upon the stirring home success that they had prior to the NBA All-Star break, the Orlando Magic instead fell flat on the road once again Tuesday night.

Orlando toppled East and West powers Oklahoma City and Indiana two weeks ago at the Amway Center and pronounced itself ready to go on the road and be tougher mentally in key spots of games.

The Magic seemed poised to pull off their first road win in more than two months when they led with 50 seconds to play. But a hurried Nate Wolters’ 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock and an Arron Afflalo turnover down the stretch ruined the hopes of a rare Magic road win, allowing Milwaukee to escape with a 104-100 victory.

``We fought back into the game and had things going our way and then they hit a dagger,’’ said Magic guard, E’Twaun Moore, who scored 17 points off the bench and had the steal to set up Orland’s go-ahead score in the final minute. ``That three kind of hurt us, but you can’t hang your head. It wasn’t just what we did at the end of the game. We have to play better throughout the whole game so that you don’t have to be in that position at the end.’’

The Magic (16-39) rallied in the fourth quarter and took a 97-96 lead with 50 seconds to play when center Nikola Vucevic drilled a 14-foot jump shot. The play was set up by the Moore strip of Caron Butler (21 points and seven 3-pointers) and veteran point guard Jameer Nelson’s 13th assist of the night.

But Milwaukee (10-43) responded with Wolters’ near-desperation 3-pointer with 29 seconds to play and the shot clock dying. From there, Afflalo had the ball stripped. And with the Magic down three later in the final seconds, Afflalo – Orlando’s representative in the Three-Point Contest over the weekend – misfired from the right wing. Nelson did have a 3-pointer in the final seconds, but Orlando could get no closer than two points after Wolters’ three.

Afflalo had 21 points, while Vucevic poured in 19 points. Tobias Harris added 16 points against a Bucks team that traded him to the Magic last February.

The Magic strung together five straight home wins before losing the last game before the All-Star break to the Memphis Grizzlies last Wednesday. In that run of home success, Orlando topped Oklahoma City and Indiana in impressive fashion. But for whatever reason the success has yet to translate on the road for the Magic. Orlando, which entered Tuesday’s game with the NBA’s worst road record at 3-23, plays six of its first seven games after the All-Star break on the road. Orlando, which plays in Cleveland on Wednesday, lost on Tuesday in large part because it put Milwaukee on the free throw line 30 times (with 22 makes).

``That’s the little things in the game,’’ Harris said of the free throw disparity. ``We have to know the fouls and know they are in the (bonus). You have to be almost perfect on the road, especially in a tight game like this, to be able to come out with the win.’’

The Magic followed up a sluggish first half by briefly storming into the lead in the third period. Moore got Orlando back to within 81-79 heading into the fourth quarter with seven straight points to end the third period.

Orlando trailed 53-47 at intermission and had to rally to get that close. It fell behind by as many as 14 points in the second quarter when Butler – a long-time Magic killer – drilled six 3-pointers in the first half.

In the end, the Magic were undone by another 3-pointer – Wolters’ only one of the game. Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said his team could have made so many other plays during the game so that the game wouldn’t have come down to the end.

``There’s a heightened concentration (needed) on the road where you have to get that offensive rebound and get that stop,’’ Vaughn said. ``It has to be like the possession late in the game where E’Twaun guards (Butler). There has to be that maniacal urgency every possession to win on the road.’’