Magic Come Up Short Against Bucks Despite Valiant Effort

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

Extremely disappointed in their lack of effort and execution in Sunday’s home finale against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Orlando Magic put in some extra work on the practice court ahead of their season-concluding four-game road trip. That practice session appeared to make a big difference, as the Magic hung tough with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks before falling 114-102 on Tuesday.

Key Stretch

Wendell Carter Jr., back after missing the last three games with a left eye abrasion, made a driving layup with 6:43 remaining in the fourth quarter to cut Milwaukee’s lead to seven. The Bucks, subsequently, scored seven straight points to reclaim momentum. Jrue Holiday hit a 3-pointer and made a pair of free throws during that stretch.

Top Performer

Moritz Wagner recorded his first double-double of the season and third of his career with 17 points and a season-high 13 rebounds. Since signing with the Magic in late April, the 6-foot-11, 245-pounder has scored in double figures five times. His ability to space the floor along with the toughness and spirit he plays with has impressed his coaches and teammates.

Key Stats

The Magic had a hard time keeping the Bucks off the offensive glass, especially down the stretch. Milwaukee totaled 17 offensive rebounds, six in the fourth quarter. The Bucks also did a ton of damage in the paint, where they scored 56 points, 12 more than Orlando.

Player Spotlight

In his postgame Zoom press conference, Steve Clifford brought up Gary Harris, acquired at the trade deadline from Denver, and the positive influence he’s had on his new teammates. Still a young player himself being just 26 years old, Harris shared some constructive advice with his less experienced teammates during Monday’s practice about the importance of preparation and sustaining a high energy level for the full 48 minutes. Those tips got through to them, Clifford said, and it showed in Milwaukee.

Injury Report

Mo Bamba (non-COVID illness), Michael Carter-Williams (sprained left ankle), James Ennis III (sore right calf), Markelle Fultz (torn ACL, left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee rehabilitation), Chuma Okeke (sprained left ankle), Otto Porter Jr. (left foot pain), and Terrence Ross (back spasms) were out for the Magic.

Quote of the Night

“I thought it was a lot more fun today because we competed I think as a unit. Regardless of what team it is, you got to come out ready every day and I think we did that today. Great effort. We did a lot of good things, defensively especially I think. Offensively, I think we still could get into a better flow and continue to grow on that end. But, just like defensively, just have to keep going and stay the course.” – Wagner

Up Next

The Magic and Hawks will wrap up their season series on Thursday in Atlanta at 7:30 p.m. The Hawks, who have won four of their last five games, are currently tied with the Miami Heat for fifth place in the East. Orlando and Atlanta last played on April 20, when Trae Young scored 25 points and Lou Williams had 22 off the bench in the Hawks’ 112-96 win.

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