In a game that was not pleasing to the eyes, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks by the score of 97-87 and come away with their seventh consecutive win of the regular season — a season-high. As has been the case during their winning streak, the Magic were led by a balanced attack as six players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard paced Orlando with 28 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks, while dominating Andrew Bogut on both ends of the floor and holding him to six points, seven rebounds, two steals, and four blocks while he fouled out. In the Magic’s previous meeting with the Bucks, Bogut feasted on Marcin Gortat but it was a different story against Howard. Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu chipped in with 13 points each, while Brandon Bass and J.J. Redick each had 10 points. Jameer Nelson flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 10 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists with zero turnovers.
Needless to say, this game was not fun to watch.
Orlando was able to build a double-digit lead in the first half, more so because Milwaukee was so inept offensively. Sure, the Magic had some highlight-worthy moments. Nelson’s connection with Richardson on a spectacular alley-oop feed early in the first quarter was a sight to see. And with the period coming to a close, Turkoglu connecting with Howard for a dunk on a half-court pass was another example of the special chemistry that the two players have.
But that was it for notable plays.
Orlando’s perimeter players did their thing in pick and rolls, while Howard was able to feast on Bogut and others on the low block. Late in the second quarter, Howard had a sequence of possessions in 4-out/1-in offensive sets that was beautiful to watch — a righty hook and foul, a lefty hook, a kick-out pass to Nelson for a three-pointer, and another righty hook set up by a nifty spin move. Howard also flashed his jumpshot for good measure, and was able to connect on a few of them.
Had it not been for the Magic’s lackadaisical effort in the second half, this game would have been over in a hurry. Credit goes to Orlando for the victory, sure. But with the Bucks short-handed, playing on a back-to-back, and sporting one of the worst offenses in recent NBA history, the Magic should have blown them out of the water in the third quarter when they had the chance. It’s easy to see why head coach Stan Van Gundy was frustrated with his players after the game.