Benny Sieu/USA TODAY
The Magic could see the avalanche coming down around them and they were powerless to stop it.
Brandon Knight stopped and popped for a duo of 3-pointers in the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Magic's six-point lead was completely gone. Then the Bucks were forcing turnovers — five of them in the fourth quarter — and getting out on the break. Long rebounds from contested or settled mid-range jumpers led to the fast break.
Knight had an emphatic dunk on the fast break off a pretty full-court pass from Giannis Antetokounmpo to Ramon Sessions.
Panic set in for the Magic and it cost them the game again and again.
The final panicky move was an unfortunate one from E'Twaun Moore. As the Magic cut a 14-point lead down to three in the final two minutes. With 30 seconds left though, Moore inexplicably fouled Sessions and he made both free throws to ice the 105-98 win for Milwaukee at BMO Harris Bradley Center on Monday.
Desperation came in too late and and a sense of panic as the Bucks kept coming and coming. Nothing seemed to phase them as they tried hard to get to the basket and force the Magic into defensive mistakes. They seemed happy to make them for stretches that were simply too long.
Milwaukee shot 21 for 25 from the foul line, really forcing the issue and taking it to Orlando's interior defense. The Magic had a hard time keeping the Bucks guards out of the paint. Knight had nine of his 24 points in the foruth quarter. He needed 23 field goals, but his shots came at important times.
The Bucks were just going and going and going.
Orlando seemed to stop a bit. The team's attack on the basket slowed down as fast break opportunities dried up. The Magic settled for mid-range jumpers and while they fell in the first half, they dried up. Orlando was not getting to the basket and not getting to the foul line.
That is not the recipe to keep a lead.
The Magic did much of that, getting the ball moving to open shooters, making the extra pass and attacking the basket, in building an 18-point first quarter lead. This was how the rest of the game was supposed to go.
The problems were becoming evident early on there too.
The Bucks were getting long rebounds and beating the Magic to the offensive glass. They ended the game with 10 offensive rebounds and 14 second chance points. It seemed just about every bounce was going their way. Maybe that was the rush and panic of seeing a lead evaporate time and time again.
Orlando was simply unable to put the game completely away.
Milwaukee kept coming with that hint of desperation and urgency that Orlando lacked. Sure, the Magic held the Bucks off for a long while. Every time Milwaukee got within one possession, Orlando seemed to ahve an answer. That was, until the Magic did not. Then the Bucks rushed forward for the win.
There were several good performances from Orlando if you are looking for positives.
Tobias Harris scored nine points in his first five minutes on the floor. He finished with 11 points. Maurice Harkless led the team with 14 points on 3-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Nikola Vucevic had a double double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Jameer Nelson had 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting. E'Twaun Moore added eight points off the bench too.
No one though took control. And too often, the Magic settled for jumpers.
That little bit of panic and urgency from Milwaukee proved to be more than enough for Milwaukee to keep things close and pounce once the shots started to fall. The Magic had their chance to put this game away.
Instead, they succumbed to the Bucks being able to push the pace and control the pace. The Magic seemed to be struggling to keep up and keep their composure as the lead started falling apart around them.
An opportunity slipped through their clutches once again for a win. That is the most disappointing thing to realize coming out of this game. This is a young team still learning how to win and how to close these games out. More importantly, they are still figuring out how to control games and do the little things.
Little things matter on the road. Little things matter when you are trying to stem the tide. Orlando is still learning.