Cold-Shooting Magic Fall to Bucks

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

This postseason, we will find out if the Milwaukee Bucks’ supporting cast is strong and deep enough for them to reach the NBA Finals, something they failed to do the last two seasons despite having the best record in the league both years. Their performance Sunday without Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed his fifth straight game due to a sprained knee, should give the reigning two-time NBA MVP optimism about his team’s depth, as Milwaukee cruised past the Orlando Magic, 124-87, at Amway Center.

Top Performer

Mo Bamba, who was questionable coming into Sunday’s game because of a left hip contusion, continues to make the most of his broadened opportunity. For the eighth time in the last nine games, the 7-footer scored in double figures, posting a career-best 21 points on 8-of-11 overall shooting against the Bucks. Most impressive about his contributions the last four games has been his 3-point shooting. Over this stretch, he has made 12 of his 17 attempts from beyond the arc.

Injury Report

Chuma Okeke sat out Sunday’s game with a sore right hip. It was his first absence since missing 16 straight games with a bruised knee in January. Otto Porter Jr. (left foot pain) and Karim Mane (sore right hamstring) were also out. Markelle Fultz (torn ACL, left knee) and Jonathan Isaac (left knee rehabilitation) are both out for the season.

Key Stat

The Magic, with the exception of Bamba, struggled from downtown. They knocked down just eight of their 36 attempts against the Bucks and have shot under 30% from 3-point distance in five of their last seven games. The Bucks, on the other hand, have been sizzling from long range over their last several games. They went 19-of-40 from deep on Sunday. Pat Connaughton made all three of his 3-point tries, while Jrue Holiday buried both of his two attempts. Earlier this season against the Miami Heat, Milwaukee set the NBA record for most 3-pointers in a game with 29 of them.

Rookie Watch

Devin Cannady, signed to a 10-day contract several days ago, made his first bucket of his NBA career and scored four points. A month ago, he was named the G League Finals MVP after scoring 22 points in the Lakeland Magic’s championship victory over the Delaware Blue Coats.

Player Spotlight

Gary Harris knows a thing or two about rebuilding. When he first arrived in Denver, the Nuggets were in the process of retooling their roster and figuring out what direction they wanted to go in. Now championship contenders, the Nuggets learned from their mistakes and jelled as that young core matured. Harris, who finished with nine points and two assists on Sunday, will be an important voice in the Magic’s locker room going forward.

Quote of the Night

“I put that all on me. On that backline of defense, there’s so many more things I can be doing out there, starting with talk(ing), getting guys in the right place. We have a lot of young guys. I’ve been in the league three years now and I think I am someone that they can lean on for guidance and how to defend an NBA offense. I put that on me and it ends with rebounding. When you go out there and make plays and you finish possessions out there. I need to do a better job of fighting for loose balls and just going there and being more physical.” – Bamba

Up Next

The Magic are back in action on Monday night when they square off against the San Antonio Spurs at 8 p.m. The Spurs went into their game against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday looking to snap a five-game losing streak. In their prior game at Denver, Derrick White scored 25 points and DeMar DeRozan poured in 24, but San Antonio came up short to the Nuggets.

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