Arron Afflalo’s career-best scoring night will be memorable for a lot more than the 36 points he scored to help the Orlando Magic rally past the Milwaukee Bucks 94-91.
Afflalo scored 29 of his 36 in the second half, including 11 straight Magic points from the seven-minute mark down to the final seconds when he slipped a pass through a crowd of defenders to Nikola Vucevic for a layup that gave the Magic the final 94-91 lead.
Afflalo then finished his night by stealing by the ball from O.J. Mayo as the Bucks scrambled to get off a game-tying 3-pointer before the final buzzer. For the game, he hit 11 of 15 shots, including 8 of 11 on 3-pointers, and had eight rebounds and six assists.
"Arron was extremely efficient tonight," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "It was just old-school drive-and-kick basketball. Sometimes the game is just that simple."
Afflalo and the Magic were stumbling all over themselves against the outmanned and injury-ravaged Bucks, trailing by 19 points in the middle of the second quarter and looking so lifeless that Vaughn had played every player in uniform by halftime.
Then Afflalo started the second half with three straight 3-pointers, had five 3s in the period and seven in the second half to keep the Magic from what would have been an embarrassing defeat.
"I was a little disappointed with our energy in the first half," said Afflalo, who noticed that the Bucks’ defense sagged every time the ball went inside. "So I had a lot of open looks. I was fortunate my 3-ball was going down."
Milwaukee played the entire game without injured starters Brandon Knight and Zaza Pachulia and top reserve Gary Neal. The Bucks played the last two minutes of the game without starter Caron Butler, who injured his shoulder and didn’t return after scoring 20 points.
Mayo led the Bucks with 25 points. Khris Middleton had 19 points and eight rebounds. John Henson added 10 points and nine boards.
"We did wear down, you could tell," Milwaukee Coach Larry Drew said. "When you’re missing seven guys, and you come in and give that kind of effort, me as a coach, I have to be grateful. As short-handed as we were, we still put ourselves in great position. We just didn’t make plays down the stretch."
Mayo, who was triple-teamed as he tried to maneuver for a game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds, gave the Magic and Afflalo credit.
"It was a very winnable game, but you have to give credit where credit is due," Mayo said. "The Magic kept fighting and probably wanted it a little more than we did. (Afflalo) was teeing off on those 3s. He hit eight 3s and we needed to make adjustments."
Afflalo, who had 15 points in the third quarter, scored another 14 in the fourth. His 3-pointer with 7:50 left put Orlando up 79-76, its first lead of the game. He hit another trey a minute later to push the Magic lead to 84-78, but had a hard time finding a partner to share the load.
The Magic guard was the only offense his team had until the final seconds, when he drove to the basket and dished to Vucevic at the last moment for a layup that gave Magic their final margin.
"I knew late in the game that I would draw a lot of attention," Afflalo said. "When I saw defenders come over, I knew Nik would be wide open.
Afflalo hit three straight 3-pointers to start the second half and get Orlando within 57-54 with 9:05 left in the third quarter, but Mayo scored five straight points for Milwaukee and weathered the storm, if only briefly.
The Bucks pushed their lead back to 70-59 before Oladipo scored five straight and Afflalo nailed two more 3-pointers to finish an 11-0 run that tied the game at 70 with 2:50 left in the quarter.
Butler had 12 and Mayo 10 in the first period when the Bucks ran out to a 36-23 lead.
NOTES: Afflalo’s five 3-pointers in the third quarter tied the team record for most in one period. . Bucks C Zaza Pachulia sat out the game with a foot injury. … The Magic were second in the NBA in field goal percentage defense before allowing Boston to shoot a league-best 60 percent last Monday, dropping Orlando dropped to fifth. … Milwaukee has not won a game in Orlando since 2004. … Magic F Glen Davis, who hasn’t played this season because of a broken foot, was fined by the team for an incident last Saturday at a local motel. Davis threw a computer keyboard against the lobby wall when he was told there were no rooms available at the Travelodge hotel in downtown Orlando.