Antetokounmpo, Bucks Bounce Back To Defeat Magic and Tie Series


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla .– The Milwaukee Bucks still haven’t figured out how to slow Nikola Vucevic down. They shut down their Orlando Magic teammates well enough to tie the Eastern Conference first-round series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 28 points and 20 rebounds and Milwaukee got off to a quick start to beat the Magic 111-96 on Thursday night in Game 2. The victory came two days after the team that boasted the best NBA record in regular season opened the playoffs losing 122-110 to Orlando.

“There is an emergency,” Antetokounmpo said. “I’m not going to say there is a fear factor – being down – but you know you have to be urgent.” ”

Milwaukee rebounded Thursday, taking a 23-point lead in the first half, although Orlando reduced the margin to nine in the fourth quarter. Orlando had zero points in the paint the entire first quarter and went almost eight minutes without a basket during a first half streak.

Antetokounmpo said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer set the tone for Thursday’s game with the message he delivered at a movie screening.

“He told us that if we wanted to win and if we wanted to go far and if we wanted to be us, we had to play defense, and we didn’t do that in the first game,” Antetokounmpo said. “I think everyone took this personally. Nobody liked it. No one wants to hear that they aren’t playing hard enough, so I think the whole team came out playing hard. Everyone was playing hard. ”

Brook Lopez scored 20 points and Pat Connaughton had 15 of 5 of 8 in 3-point shooting for Milwaukee. Eric Bledsoe had 13 points and Donte DiVincenzo added 11.

The Bucks withstood another huge effort from Vucevic, who continued their 35-point effort in the opener by scoring 32 points. No one else on the Magic has scored more than 12 points.

“He’s a very, very good player,” said Budenholzer. “We have a lot of respect for him, but I think overall our defense was well placed. ”

This was especially true in the first half.

After Vucevic took a jump shot to reduce Milwaukee’s lead to four with 5:34 left in the first quarter, the Magic missed their next 13 field goal attempts. Orlando wouldn’t make another basket and was 16 behind before Terrence Ross hit a jumper with 9:48 left until halftime.

But the Magic then missed their next six shots as the Bucks increased their lead to 23.

“We have to get the ball rolling,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “We didn’t do this early. We missed a few shots. But definitely, their ball pressure – they were more in us, and that really had an impact on how we played the attack. ”

Orlando made it somewhat interesting in the second half.

Vucevic scored 16 points in the third quarter just to help the Magic cut the deficit to 12, although Milwaukee regained the margin to 20 by the end of the period. Orlando continued to hang around and scored 101-92 on Markelle Fultz’s jump with 3:56 to go, but the Magic couldn’t come close.


Magic: Orlando played again without injured forward Aaron Gordon and guard Michael Carter-Williams. Gordon has a strained left hamstring, while Williams has a strained tendon in his left foot. “I think Aaron is closer than Mike,” Clifford said before the game. “He just doesn’t have the strength in his leg, but actually looking at him yesterday they played live two-on-two, and he’s moving a lot better than he was when they played on Monday. I think he’s closer, but it just depends on how things are progressing and how much stronger he will feel tomorrow. ”

Bucks: Milwaukee needs more production from Khris Middleton. The All-Star forward has only scored two points and shot 1 of 8. He has shot 5 of 20 from the ground so far in the series. Budenholzer and Antetokounmpo expressed their confidence in Middleton after the game and noted that he had contributed to the victory in other areas. “I saw Khris have a bad game and the next game score 30, 35, 40,” Antetokounmpo said. ” I saw that. Personally, I know he will be ready for the third game. He’s a great player. ”


Orlando tries to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself. The Magic won their first playoff game against Toronto last year before losing four in a row to eventual NBA champion the Raptors.

On the other hand, Connaughton said the Bucks’ categorical response to their loss in Game 1 reminded him of their second-round streak with Boston last year. The Bucks dropped out of this series’ opener, but rebounded to beat the Celtics four times in a row.

“We respond very well to losses,” Connaughton said. “Obviously we would prefer not to have them, but when they do happen we want to make sure we respond to the next game and continue to respond game after game after game, but taking it one game at a time. ”


The third game of the best-of-7 series will take place on Saturday.


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