Magic Run Out of Fuel Late in Loss to Bucks

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

Similar to a few of the games from their playoff series last season at Disney, the Orlando Magic hung tough with the Milwaukee Bucks for three quarters before running out of fumes. A 22-2 run by Milwaukee in the fourth period ruined any hope Orlando had of pulling out a win in Monday’s 121-99 loss at Amway Center. Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with 28 points and 13 rebounds, while Aaron Gordon, playing a point forward role much of the night, finished with 21 points, five rebounds and eight assists.

Top Performer

For the fourth time in his career and first in over two years, Vucevic recorded at least 28 points in back-to-back games. Orlando’s starting center erupted for 28 points on Monday against the Bucks, two nights after pouring in 30 in Dallas. The last time Vucevic had consecutive 28-plus point games was in November of 2018, when he did it twice. The last Magic player to do it was Evan Fournier in December of 2019. In the postseason against Milwaukee last season at Disney, Vucevic became the fourth player in franchise history to score 30 or more three times in a playoff series.

Key Stretch

The Magic pulled within two early in the fourth quarter when Gordon dunked over Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had five fouls at the time. From that moment on, the Bucks took complete control of the game. Milwaukee’s torrid stretch started with an Antetokounmpo 3-pointer and was followed by a Bobby Portis triple. Khris Middleton made three consecutive shots during that span as well. The only basket Orlando had during that Milwaukee 22-2 run was a Mo Bamba driving layup.

Key Stat

Taking care of the ball is normally something the Magic do well. That wasn’t the case on Monday, as they coughed it up 19 times, which led to 31 Bucks points. Clearly, the lack of depth at the point guard position is making it more difficult for Orlando to execute without mistakes. As well as he played in all other facets on the offensive end, Vucevic committed four of those turnovers, extremely rare for him considering he was averaging just 0.9 of them coming into Monday’s action.

Player Spotlight

Don’t be surprised if before this season is over Gordon notches at least a couple triple-doubles. He has one in his career, recorded last season against the Minnesota Timberwolves. As a result of all the injuries, the 6-foot-9, 220-pound versatile forward is being asked to take on more responsibilities, including orchestrating the offense. Arguably his most underrated strength is his passing, which he’s able to take advantage of in high pick-and-roll or out of the post, especially when he’s guarded by smaller defenders, those he can see over the top of. Now in his seventh NBA season, all with the Magic, Gordon shot it well also on Monday, connecting on eight of his 14 shots overall and three of his four 3-point attempts.

Rivals Report

For the first time since signing with the Bucks in the offseason, D.J. Augustin returned to Amway Center, where he scored eight points and dished out four assists against his former team on Monday. Augustin, one of few players from the 2008 NBA Draft still in the league, spent the last four years with the Magic, with whom he averaged 10.1 points and 4.1 assists. The most memorable moment of his Magic tenure came in Game 1 of Orlando’s 2019 playoff series against Toronto when he drilled a game-winning 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds remaining.

Quote of the Night

“That’s what you want for your team. That’s a coach’s dream, I believe is having each of your players know every single position so you can be interchangeable. It’s hard for some of the new guys. For me it’s my third year (under Steve Clifford), so I know the offense pretty well and a lot of different positions. I’m learning game by game, (and I feel I’m) an extension of coach Cliff out there.” – Gordon on playing the point forward role

Up Next

The Magic will now head back out on the road for a five opponent, six-game trip, starting in Boston with the first of two meetings against the Celtics scheduled for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. It is unclear, however, if the Celtics will have enough players available for this game to avoid a postponement. Their game that had been scheduled for Sunday against Miami was postponed because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols, and it was announced earlier Monday that their Tuesday game at Chicago will also have to be played at a later date.

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