[Orlando, FL] Coming into tonight’s contest off an impressive win – not to mention winners of 7 out of their last 9 games – the Orlando Magic (19-11) figured tonight couldn’t be too big of a challenge considering they had just skinned their opponents the Milwaukee Bucks (12-17) earlier in the week week, 99-94.
Thanks to 31 points from Jason Richardson and good team basketball, Orlando took control of the game late last time and brought home the W.
But would the Bucks – led by a highly skilled, yet largely headed young point guard by the name of Brandon Jennings – steal a win in O-Town on Friday night?
Coming out of the gates faster than Barbaro at the 2006 Preakness Stakes (too soon?), the Bucks took an early 11-5 lead thanks to none other than Mr. Jennings himself. Congrats, Brandon, you almost scored as many points in the first five minutes as you did the whole last game against the Magic; making everyone proud.
On the other hand, the Magic came out completely flat and looking discombobulated. The closest thing to a bright spot for the Magic in the first quarter was Dwight Howard recording 6 points. After one, the Bucks led 27-15, with Jennings putting up 8.
The second quarter was a different story as Ryan Anderson came alive, tossing in 8 points in the first 6 minutes. But the Magic just couldn’t get within 10 on a consistent basis thanks to solid team play by Milwaukee.
Everyone was contributing for the Bucks with the exception of Jon Leuer. Jon? Jon? Where are you? After starting the season looking like a solid prospect, he has done nothing impressive as of late.
Dwight Howard has a monster game for the Orlando Magic
But after being down 39-28, the engines finally started turning for the Magic, and they ended the half on a 16-7 run. The score at the break was Milwaukee Bucks 46, Orlando Magic 44. Leading the way for the Bucks: Ersan Ilyasova (where do they find these people at?) with 11 points.
The leader for the Magic was Superman with 14. Thanks Dwight for finally showing up again!
The third started with the Magic coming out and tying it up quick at 52 a piece. From that point though, Milwaukee went Buck-wild, going on a 14-4 run and building a 10-point lead. The culprit? “Big Head” Jennings. He actually remembered what the hoop looked like in this game. Imagine that.
But just like the Bucks, the Orlando Magic went on a little 16-8 run of their own, closing the gap and earning a score of 74-72 heading into the fourth. Leading the Magic through three was Mr. Anderson with 22 points. Still leading the Bucks after three was the mighty Ilyasova, who had 14.
Aww yes, the fourth quarter. Where boys become men and teams like the Milwaukee Bucks fall apart at the seams. We’ve seen this movie before as this is the same point in the game that the Magic took control in their last meeting with Milwaukee.
Time for the sequel: Led by no one particular, the Magic took control getting contributions from everyone, playing great team ball. They outscored the suddenly hapless Bucks 22-11 in quarter number four and notched another victory, with a final score of 94-85.
Leading the way for Orlando was D12 with 26 points and 20 boards (nice!). Also in double figures were Ryan Anderson with 23 points and 9 boards, Hedo Turkoglu with 14, J.J. Redick (11) and Jameer Nelson with 10. Decent play all around, fellas.
The Orlando Magic play their next game this Sunday in Miami against the Heat. Coming into this match-up, Miami is on a 5-game win streak and I’m going to expect for it to continue to 6. Not that I don’t think the Magic couldn’t beat Miami in a 7-game series, but the Heat are 12-2 at home this year and are playing unbelievable ball right now.
My Prediction: Heat 104, Magic 96
PF: Slight Heat
Note: Hitting 3 out of my first 4 picks this season, let’s see how things keep going!
By: Mike Yesenko/Sunshine Slate
Image: Orlando Magic