Answers elusive for Magic after surprisingly lopsided loss to Bucks
ORLANDO, Fla. — In their most recent home game, the Orlando Magic had reason to feel they let a victory slip away.
There was no such sense of frustration Thursday night. Not after the Milwaukee Bucks shot 55.9 percent from the floor through three quarters and led by as many as 29 points on their way to handing the Magic a season-high seventh loss in a row.
The 115-100 defeat was something coach Jacque Vaughn admitted he had no inkling was about to unfold, especially after the Magic displayed some rare defensive grit Monday night in holding the Memphis Grizzlies to 36 points after halftime.
"I really thought we had a great shootaround today," Vaughn said. "There goes that theory of having great shootarounds and going out and playing extremely well. I think our focus and the energy going into the game was really good. I’m really surprised by the results."
Nikola Vucevic and Victor Oladipo were a combined 3 of 16 in a first quarter where the Magic were limited to 18 points. Starting forwards Aaron Gordon and Channing Frye were non-factors all game, and Tobias Harris hit only two of his 12 shots off the bench.
The closest thing to badly needed instant offense came from Willie Green. And that didn’t come until the fourth quarter, after the Bucks had taken their foot off the accelerator.
"They pretty much got everything they wanted on us," said Green, who scored 13 of his 16 points in the final eight minutes in relief of Oladipo. "They were getting 3s, points in the paint, fast-break points, free throws."
After three quarters, the Bucks had 21 points on fast breaks to seven for the Magic. Jared Dudley, Khris Middleton, Brandon Knight and O.J. Mayo combined to go 10 of 21 from 3-point range.
And the 24 turnovers the Magic ended up with tied for the most they had committed in a game all season.
"At times, we did press a little bit," Vaughn said. "When they jumped on us, we overreacted a little bit and tried to catch up 10 points in one possession."
A 15-34 record, including a 5-16 mark at home, has left everyone searching for answers.
"I think we’ve gotten away with playing together, and it just trickles down to the next guy to the next guy to the next guy to the next guy," said Harris, who limped to the locker room during the second half after being kneed. "It’s just a different vibe right now. That’s the most frustrating thing."
"We all have to go back and look at ourselves in the mirror and figure out what we can do better," added Green, a 12-year veteran and one of the team’s elder statesmen at 33. "It’s been difficult. I’m not going to sit up here and try to sugarcoat it. It’s tough."
Vucevic played a season-low 22 minutes before being taken out in the fourth quarter for Dewayne Dedmon, who had been conspicuously absent from the proceedings up to that point. Vaughn said the Bucks’ smaller lineup prevented Dedmon from being used at the same time as Vucevic.
"Coach has a right to play anybody he feels like he should play," Vucevic said. "That’s the way it is, and you’ve got to accept it as a player and find a way to play even if your minutes are cut."
"Guys feel frustrated across the board," Vaughn said. "They want to win. And we aren’t right now."
Except for back-to-back victories over Chicago and Houston, where they topped the 120-point mark, the Magic have gone winless this month. With the Dallas Mavericks coming to town Saturday night, things aren’t about to get any easier.
"We have to come to the arena for games with everyone willing to go full out," Green said. "It’s difficult when you get a losing streak going, because things can kind of get out of whack. But we’ve got to find a way to get back on the right track and get a win here soon."
Finding themselves backed into a corner, maybe the Magic need to channel their inner Mike Tyson.
"I don’t what we’ve got to do — bite somebody’s ear off?" Green said. "I don’t know what it is, but we’ve got to get a win."
Added Vucevic: "It’s on us as players to find a way to get out of this."