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Orlando Magic Go Cold in Game 2 Loss; Series Now Tied 1-1

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

The Lead

One of the big questions coming into the Orlando Magic-Milwaukee Bucks first round playoff series was whether the Bucks’ top-ranked defense would cause the Magic to struggle with their shooting or if the Magic’s hot shooting late in the year, particularly in the few weeks before the temporary shutdown, would carry over to the postseason. The latter was the case in Game 1, while the former occurred in Game 2. Except for Nikola Vucevic, who recorded 32 points for his second straight 30-plus-point performance, the rest of the team couldn’t get into a rhythm in Orlando’s 111-96 Game 2 loss on Thursday night at Walt Disney World.

Top Storyline

Over the first 30 days of the NBA’s 2019-20 regular season, the Magic ranked last in scoring. Over the last 30 days before the hiatus, on the other hand, the Magic ranked first in scoring. So, perhaps it’s only fitting that the results have also been uneven through their first two playoff games. Game 1 Orlando was sizzling, drilling 16 3-pointers and shooting 49 percent overall. Game 2 they were ice cold, making seven threes, just one before halftime, and shooting 34 percent from the field.

Top Performer

Only two games have been played in each series, so it’s way too early to do playoff rankings. But without question, Vucevic has been one of the top five players in the postseason so far. In Game 1, Orlando’s 7-footer erupted for 35 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, becoming just the fourth Magic player ever to score 35-plus and haul down 10-plus boards in a playoff game. Then in Game 2, he became the fifth player in franchise history to record back-to-back 30-plus-point postseason scoring performances, finishing with 32 points on 13-of-23 shooting.

Key Stats

The Magic did a lot well. The Bucks were held to six fast break points, 12 fewer than their regular season average. The Magic took 31 free throws, nearly nine more than their season average, knocking down 27 of them. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee’s second best scorer in the regular season, finished with just two points on 1-of-8 shooting. However, making only seven 3-pointers was certainly not enough. The only way Orlando can upset Milwaukee in this series is if they are hitting from the outside. The Bucks gave up more threes to opponents in the regular season than any other team.

The Best Stretch

Although they fell behind by as much as 23 in the first half, the Magic never checked out. Down 17 with a little over six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Orlando went on a 10-2 run to pull within single digits. During that stretch, Evan Fournier made a pair of buckets, James Ennis III connected on a layup, Markelle Fultz buried a corner jump shot with his feet just inside the 3-point line and Vucevic had a dunk. Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 28 points and 20 rebounds, had a driving dunk and Brook Lopez sank a 3-pointer to end any chances of Orlando pulling off the comeback.

The Big Picture

Game 3 will take place on Saturday at 1 p.m. on FOX Sports Florida and TNT. The Magic hope to get Aaron Gordon back, and perhaps Michael Carter-Williams as well. Gordon has missed the last six games with a hamstring injury. The Magic’s 6-foot-8 versatile forward has defended Antetokounmpo well throughout his career. Carter-Williams, meanwhile, has missed the last seven games with a strained left foot. Head Coach Steve Clifford said before Game 2 Gordon was a little further ahead of MCW in their rehabilitation.

Quote of the Night

“We’re feeling good. If this was a regular way and we played two games in Milwaukee (and) we tied one-one, we’d be going home very happy. We’re in a good spot…We showed that we can play very well with them. We made a lot of mistakes tonight and we still had a chance in the fourth. They’re a great team. They are going to get better as the series goes on. We have to do the same and match up with intensity in their play. I think that these first two games gave us more belief than we had I think to begin the series anyway.” – Vucevic