Magic struggle in loss to Heat (115-106) but have fight against the Bucks in loss (118-114)

ORLANDO/MILWAUKEE – The Orlando Magic suffered a significant defeat against the Miami Heat, losing 115-206 on Wednesday, December 19th, followed by a narrower 118-114 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, December 20th in Milwaukee.

These losses followed consecutive defeats against the Boston Celtics.

Against Miami, the Magic aimed to extend their nine-game home winning streak at the newly-named Kia Center. Their recent performances had been dominant, triumphing over the Cleveland Cavaliers with a score of 104-94, positioning the Magic second in the league standings, just below the Boston Celtics, whom they defeated in their last NBA In Season Tournament game.

Orlando, Florida, USA, December 20, 2023, Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro #14 runs pass Moritz Wagner #21 at the Amway Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

Returning home to face the Heat, Orlando faced challenges in shooting, particularly from the 3-point range, starting as low as 15% early in the game and finishing at 35%, hitting only 9 out of 36 attempts. Both Franz Wagner and Gary Harris struggled notably in their 3-point attempts.

During the second quarter against Miami, the Heat outscored Orlando 43-26, securing a lead they never relinquished.

Despite the absence of their leader, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro proved pivotal for the Heat, scoring 28 points against the Magic and shooting an impressive 4 for 5 from 3-point range. The Heat displayed depth with seven players reaching double figures, and their bench outplayed Orlando’s, tallying 58 points to Orlando’s 21.

While Orlando typically dominated opposing benches in wins, they struggled against Miami’s strong shooting, coupled with their own inconsistent performance.

Orlando, Florida, USA, December 20, 2023, Miami Heat forward Jaime Jaquez Jr #11 at the Amway Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

For Miami, Jaime Jaquez Jr was solid  in the starting lineup with 10 points, and a lot of activity on defense that gave the Magic Problems.

The following day, Orlando faced another league-leading team, the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Magic remained competitive throughout the game, leading 31-28 at the end of the first quarter and trailing the Bucks 59-56 at halftime.

Despite a close game in the third quarter, with Milwaukee scoring 32 to Orlando’s 26, the Magic fought from behind, notching 32 points in the final quarter but falling short in catching up to the Bucks.

Orlando, Florida, USA, November 11, 2023, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 readies to shoot a free throw during the second half at the Amway Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

Jonathan Isaac’s defensive prowess, including three blocks against Giannis Antetokounmpo, made an impact inside for Orlando.

Despite Giannis scoring 37 points, including 15 successful free throws, Orlando managed a strong offensive showing against Milwaukee’s defense, with Franz Wagner scoring 29 points, Paolo Banchero with 23 points, and Moritz Wagner contributing 21 points off the bench.

While dominating in the paint with a 60-40 advantage against the Bucks, Orlando found parity in second chance points, securing 13 against Milwaukee’s 15.

Orlando’s bench, led by Mo Wagner and Cole Anthony (18 points), outperformed Milwaukee’s, scoring 43 compared to the Bucks’ 21.

However, Orlando struggled on the boards, being outrebounded 51-45, and had fewer successful 3-point shots—8 compared to Milwaukee’s 11.

The critical difference in the game lay in free throws, with Orlando converting 16 of 33 chances while Milwaukee capitalized on 31 of their 35 attempts.

Despite a late-game resurgence in shooting, Orlando’s deficit was insurmountable. Although Milwaukee led by as much as 15 points, Orlando managed to narrow the gap to within 5 points.

Orlando continues its road trip, heading to Indianapolis to face the Pacers on Saturday, December 23rd.

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