Playing two straight against the Milwaukee Bucks to wrap up a five-game road trip was an arduous assignment for the young and developing Orlando Magic. What they learned in defeat is that transforming into an elite team requires an incredible amount of discipline and chemistry, which the defending champs obviously have and showed in their 123-92 victory Monday night.
Injuries to Cole Anthony (ankle) and Gary Harris (hand) elevated 27-year-old Mychal Mulder to the starting lineup. This wasn’t the first time he has started in the NBA, however. In fact, he started in six games last season with the Golden State Warriors. In 24 minutes on Monday, the 6-foot-3 guard and former Kentucky Wildcat matched his season high with 13 points, going 4-of-11 on floor shots including 3-of-7 from 3-point range.
In both games of this mini-series, the Bucks were scorching from 3-point distance. On Saturday, they drilled 19 threes. On Monday, they knocked down 18 of them. Turnovers were Orlando’s kryptonite in Monday’s loss. They coughed it up 16 times leading to 25 Bucks points.
Anthony, the Magic’s leading scorer, missed his second straight game with a sprained right ankle. Also out for Orlando were Harris (sprained right hand), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), Markelle Fultz (left knee) and E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain). For Milwaukee, Semi Ojeleye (right calf soreness), Donte DiVincenzo (left ankle), Sandro Mamukelashvili (coach’s decision) and Brook Lopez (back soreness) were unavailable.
The Bucks are starting to look like the team everyone expected coming off their championship run a season ago. It’s early to start analyzing potential playoff matchups, but how does Milwaukee size up against the East’s other elite? Particularly Miami and Brooklyn, as they are the two most would agree have the best chance at knocking off the Bucks in a seven-game series. Two things the Bucks did extremely well in the playoffs last season was defend without fouling and rebound at a high rate. The Heat excel at getting to the free throw line and are also a great rebounding team. The Nets, meanwhile, are a great 3-point shooting team, which is key against the Bucks who do a great job keeping opponents away from the basket.
This Day in History
The Magic’s best stretch during their inaugural 1989-1990 season came right around Thanksgiving. They won five out of six, two of them during a three-game West Coast trip. On Nov. 22, 1989, Sam Vincent, Sidney Green and Jerry Reynolds each scored 22 points and Reggie Theus filled up the stat sheet with 19 points, seven rebounds and 14 assists to lead Orlando past the Jazz in Salt Lake City. Karl Malone led all scorers that night with 33 points. John Stockton didn’t play in the game due to a sprained ankle. Interesting about that is that he missed only four games over his first 13 NBA seasons and 22 total across his 19-year NBA career.
Quote of the Night
“They turned it up. You got to give them credit. They’re the world champs for a reason. They turned up the pressure, turned up the heat. We ended up turning it over (with) six early ones, not allowing ourselves the possessions. They were very costly and timely. But give them credit.” – Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley
Their five-game road trip complete, the Magic return home to play two, starting with a Southeast Division showdown against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday at 7 p.m. This will be Charlotte’s final visit to Orlando this season, having played and won there on Oct. 27. In that contest, Miles Bridges scored 31 points and Gordon Hayward had 24 for the Hornets, while Anthony led the Magic with 24 points and Wendell Carter Jr. recorded 20 points and 10 rebounds.