The Magic players generally had the same things to say in the locker room following an easy victory over the hopeless and hapless Bucks.
This was a desperately needed win. It was good to get the lead early for a change and race past Milwaukee for a 20-point lead that was never really challenged. There was frustration with giving up 38 points in the fourth quarter (that ultimately did not matter). There was satisfaction that everyone contributed, it seemed, in some way.
Simply put — and many Magic players did — this was a good win.
“It’s good for us definitely,” Victor Oladipo said. “We played well as a team today. We did a lot of good things. We took our foot off the gas, you could say, in the fourth quarter. We’ve just got to keep it going. Other than that, I think we played a pretty good game.”
That would be the simple summary of the Magic’s 113-102 win that was really much wider than the final socring margin suggested.
The long story of it was Oladipo contributing 15 points and seven assists, helping the Magic push the pace and attack the basket. It was Arron Afflalo “motivated” by his All-Star snub on his way to 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting and a 65.3 percent true shooting percentage. It was Nikola Vucevic continuing to shake off rust on his way to 12 points and six rebounds. Or Tobias Harris attacking the basket well in transition and making big plays to end any hints at a run on his way to 18 points.
For Orlando, it was complete and thorough dominance from start to nearly finish.
“It’s important to learn how to close out games because obviously we’re not going to be in the situation a whole lot where we are just blowing teams out,” Afflalo said. “So when you have the opportunity to capitalize, you have to step on it.”
The Magic did that early in jumping out to a 35-20 lead after the first quarter and a 67-46 lead at halftime. The offense was a thing of beauty, using a 12-3 run late in the first quarter to take the lead decisively into double digits for the rest of the evening.
Orlando had 52 points in the paint, finding it easy to get into the paint and break down the Milwaukee defense. The Magic were willing to share it too with 27 assists on 43 field goals. Each player on the Magic had at least one assist in the game. The ball was moving quickly.
And it was moving quickly up the floor too as the Magic scored 20 fast break points. It was key in building their lead so quickly.
Maurice Harkless recorded two steals in that tell-tale fourth quarter and scored 10 points in the second quarter. He threw down two vicious one-handed slams and helped find Arron Afflalo in the corner for a 3-pointer to end the first half.
The Bucks might as well have been dead and buried from there.
“That was fun to see,” Jacque Vaughn said of the first half. “You know you look at the stat sheet and everyone who played tonight had an assist. So we talked about for us to score the basketball we need each other. And tonight was definitely an example of us playing together.”
The quality of the opponent may have had something to do with it, but the Magic were in a great rhythm and able to find the open man every time, it seemed. Orlando shot 51.8 percent for the game while holding the Bucks to 44.8 percent from the floor.
About the only thing wrong the Magic did was giving up too many offensive rebounds (12). Even that did not hurt them as the Bucks scored 11 second chance points.
The Magic worked hard to gang rebound and control the pace and dominate. The Bucks had no answer, not until it was far too late. And even then, their defense could not help them get over the hump.
Whatever the Magic learned, it was to keep attacking and put teams away. Maybe even when it seems like the game is completely out of reach (they should know that lesson already).
“When we play that way, we’re a pretty good team,” Vucevic said. “We’re hard to guard because we’re moving, being active. When we move the ball, it’s hard for people to play defense against that. We just got to keep doing it. We’ve done it in games that we won. We just got to do it over and over again and that’s how we’ll win.”
It was a happy locker room, but it was soon time to move on to the next game.