ORLANDO, FL – The Orlando Magic lost of the Milwaukee Bucks 136-118 at the Amway Center on Thursday night. It was the second night in three days that both teams battled on the court, and in both games, the severely short handed Magic fought the Bucks to the end, even thought the World Champs had pretty much a full roster available.
For Orlando, it’s been a struggle between injuries and the new wave of the Omicron version of the COVID-19 virus that has wreaked havoc on their roster, as well as the rest of the NBA.
Giannis Antetokounpo and company had the firepower to blow the Magic off of the floor, with the two time MVP, and his roster of sharp shooters, They proceeded to make their shots look easy as they came down the court.
Orlando on the other hand, were not only missing their main starters Cole Anthony, Mo Bamba, and promising rookie Jalen Suggs that they started this season with, but replacement players form the bench and G League, such as Terrance Ross, Robin Lopez, and Chuma Okeke were all ruled out because of COVID Health and Safety protocols, and Hassani Gravett, a back up to the back up to the back up point guard, who came up from the Magic’s Lakeland G-league squad was also pulled in the middle of Tuesday’s loss.
There is one thing that is a mainstay or even of this team is that it does not quit. With facing one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, this team scrapped and fought for every point, loose balls and rebound to keep the game within reach through the third quarter.
Rookie Franz Wagner is no longer a secret in the NBA, as every team that faces the Magic now targets him as a major part of the Orlando offense. Wagner still managed to have a good night, scoring 20 points against Milwaukee. His brother Martin scored 19 points on 8 for 10 shooting.
Veteran Gary Harris scored 17 points for the Magic and replacement players Tim Frazier scored 13 points as a starter for the game.
Wendell Carter Jr. was the lone big man available on the roster. He ad to face Giannis as well as big men DeMarcus Cousins and Bobby Portis, who torched Orlando with the 3-point shot marlin in the week.
Carter Jr held his own as best as possible, with his double-double on points and rebounds, but also adding 5 assist to his night.
In the fourth quarter, Giannis took over. With the loss of Lopez, Orlando was short on Big men, and only had Carter jr as the big man to hold them off inside. Earlier in the quarter, DeMarcus Cousins got physical, battling Mo Wagner as well as Carter for 15 points and 9 rebounds in the game.
Later in the fourth, Giannis was Isolated over and over against Carter, and drove to the basket over and over, posting hi up, dipping his shoulder and driving by him, and slamming down rebounds for the Bucks to pull away.
But Orlando never gave up.
“We just want to be respected in this league.” said Magic Guard R.J. Hampton.” We’re going to go out there and fight every night. Not be a laughing stock. Teams know that when they go on the floor against the Orlando Magic, it’s gonna be a hard game. Giannis, two time MVP, was on the floor with 30 seconds left abasing us. Chris Middleton was on the floor abasing us at the end. We are not going to give up.”
With the Bucks concentrating on Franz, Mo Wagner was active all over the floor tonight in a lot of stats that don’t show up on the stat sheet, but making a difference, driving and battling inside and challenging Milwaukee shots.
This was no cakewalk for the Bucks, as Hampton said. They kept key players on the floor, even thought that had a commanding lead. After Giannis drove for numerous scores after isolation to help Milwaukee pull away, he was re-inserted into the game to help close things out.
The Magic head up to Boston to face the Boston Celtics at the TD garden on Sunday
September 2nd, then return home to face the Philadelphia 76er on January 5th here at Amway Center.