ORLANDO, FL – The Orlando Magic lost to the world champion Milwaukee Bucks 127-110 on Tuesday night at the Amway Center, but it was a night about fight, not flight for the young team.
Orlando rookie forward Franz Wagner scored a career-high 38 points on 12 for 20 shooting and helped will the Magic from a 29 point deficit at one point to within single digits.
The shorthanded Magic, playing without most of it’s usual starters, such as Cole Anthony and Mo Bamba, plus stand ins Terrance Ross and Chuma Okeke being benched for Heath and Safety Protocols, the young squad put up a heroic fights against the mostly fully staffed champs, who were only missing Robin Lopez from their roster for the night.
Orlando managed to get strong performances from Wagner as well as Wendell Carter Jr (19 point, 10 rebounds), and Gary Harris (13 points).
It was evident that the Bucks had the deeper and more talented roster, with two time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (28 points), Chris Middleton (21 points) and Bobby Portis (19 points, 5 for 5 from 3), as well as Jrue Holiday (18 points, 10 assists).
Milwaukee, being back at full strength, was able to substitute in veterans Demarcus Cousins, Donte DeVincenzo, and Pat Connaughton to keep the pressure on the young Orlando squad.
The second quarter Magic bench of Tim Frazier, Freddie Gillespie, and Admiral Schofield proved no math for the experienced bucks and led to a 40-21 second quarter that pretty much sealed the win for Milwaukee.
They amazing thing that this Orlando Club proves over and over again, is that they have no quit in them.
“I love our team’s resilience and their ability to fight.” Said Magic Head Coach Jamal Mosely. “But going into that third quarter, our guys knew that they had to come out swinging, get a little more physical, make them a little more uncomfortable”
Milwaukee has won four in a row and five of its last seven. Since starting the season 6-8, the Bucks have gone 17-5 to surge back near the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
Giannis scored 9 of his 28 points in the first half and had to work harder physically in the second half to put Milwaukee back ahead for the win. Orlando didn’t have anyone capable of stopping him, but did manage to keep him to 10 of 19 shooting.
Giannis managed a soaring dunk over the pours Magic defense in the fourth, helping the Bucks pull away from the 9 point lead that Orlando was able to battle back to.
DeMarcus Cousins was issued a technical foul in the second quarter as well as a team tech for defensive 3 second violation in the 1st.
Robin Lopez started the game for the Magic, and managed to score 9 points with 2 rebounds and 4 assists in his 24 minutes on the floor, but if you looked closely, you could see some of the little things that he did away from the ball to help his fellow players.
Franz Wagner missed a shot, and Lopez was encouraging him as they made it back up to the other end of the floor, talking to him and patting him on the back. He did the same thing for Wendell Carter after he was called for a frustrating foul while defending the Bucks.
“Rolo (Lopez) is one of the best teammates that I’ve ever had” Said Forward Wendell Carter Jr. “He’s just a phenomenal person. Just by that fact that he’s able to give good energy to this team is one of the reasons that he is still in this league.”
Orlando has a day off, and then faces the Bucks once again on Thursday December 30th back at the Amway Center.