Preview: Bucks at Magic
The Orlando Magic are enjoying their best week in nearly three months with three straight wins.
On Saturday, they’ll attempt to get a fourth straight win for the first time in over two years when they host the Milwaukee Bucks.
Orlando (18-36) has matched its longest winning streak of the season by knocking off Atlanta, Cleveland and Miami in a span of four days. Those wins are part of a respectable 6-5 stretch since Jan. 12.
The Magic are gunning for their first four-game winning streak since winning five straight Nov. 25-Dec. 3, 2015.
“The players and coaches are starting to show some faith in each other and that’s helping us get through some rough times like we had tonight,” Orlando reserve Marreese Speights told reporters. “Now, we’ve got to enjoy the feeling of winning and want that feeling all the time, so we can push this streak further.”
Orlando has equaled its best run without leading scorer Aaron Gordon, and he will miss his seventh straight game with a strained left hip flexor. Gordon participated in noncontact drills during Friday’s practice but is not cleared and will miss his 16th game.
The Magic will also be playing their second game with D.J. Augustin and Shelvin Mack as their primary point guards after Elfrid Payton was traded to Phoenix on Thursday. Augustin is the starter and the Magic are 6-2 with him in the starting lineup after he collected 18 points and nine assists Thursday.
“When you spend four years with a guy, it’s tough to see him go,” Orlando’s Evan Fournier told reporters. “It really is, especially when a guy comes in as a rookie. You see him grow and evolve. We’re going to miss him. I’m going to miss him, for sure. We’ve got to move forward now.
During this 11-game stretch, Orlando is averaging 107.6 points on 48 percent shooting while allowing 105.4 points. Before this, the Magic dropped 23 of 27 by allowing 112.6 points and averaging 102.7 points.
Milwaukee is 7-2 since firing Jason Kidd on Jan. 22 and is coming off a sub-par showing in a 91-85 loss at Miami on Friday. The Bucks shot 42 percent, missed 14 of 20 3-pointers, were outscored 30-9 in the third quarter and committed 18 turnovers.
“There were a lot of stretches where we were outscored significantly,” Milwaukee interim coach Joe Prunty said. “We struggled to score in the third. There were also stretches in the first half where we were pushing the ball. We were getting stops, but we were making some sloppy turnovers. Our turnovers ended up being high with 18. There were stretches where we could’ve made better decisions.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo totaled 23 points and 11 rebounds for his 26th double-double of the season. In his last two games after tweaking his ankle Sunday in Brooklyn, Antetokounmpo has scored 46 points and grabbed 22 rebounds and his latest double-double occurred after he was 3 of 14 through the first 36 minutes.
His latest double-double occurred in a game that saw Milwaukee get outrebounded 51-37 despite the return of John Henson — who is second on the team in rebounding — from a hamstring injury.
“It’s something that we have do better as a team,” Prunty said of Milwaukee’s inconsistent rebounding.
Henson grabbed eight rebounds while Eric Bledsoe combined for 33 points as Milwaukee finished with 85 points or less for the third time this season.
The Bucks are trying to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 17-20 while also seeking their sixth straight win on the second night of a back-to-back.
Milwaukee has won five of the last seven meetings. On Jan. 10, the Bucks shot 54.9 percent in a 110-103 home win when Antetokounmpo finished with 26 points.