Orlando Magic Grades: Milwaukee Bucks 111, Orlando Magic 95

The Orlando Magic slowed down Giannis Antetokounmpo, but could not slow down the Milwaukee Bucks. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic slowed down Giannis Antetokounmpo, but could not slow down the Milwaukee Bucks. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic again struggled to shoot and that infected the rest of their game as the Milwaukee Bucks won easily at the Amway Center.

Final. 111. 89. 95. 38

The Orlando Magic could have a great gameplan against the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks, but nothing would matter if they could not execute the final, most important part of that gameplan. Even then, it might not matter. They are on a historic pace, after all.

They had no chance without that last bit. And without it, it was easy to see their attention to detail tail off. They could only sustain things so long against a team that can break even the best defenses when they are firing.

Like so many other games and so many other issues for the Magic this year, it came down to their shooting. And against a team like the Bucks, being unable to shoot is a death knell.

Watching that poor shooting drain the team made things worse. The Magic got open shots and missed them again and again.

The Bucks hit contested shots and despite focused attention on stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo in the paint, they still found space on the outside and in transition. The Magic let mistakes compound over and over again.

The Bucks dominated the first two and a half quarters. The Magic could only control things enough to tread water. And even then, the Bucks were still able to get into their shots easily for a 111-95 victory at the Amway Center on Saturday.

This might not be the best opponent to judge the team’s overall progress. The Bucks are on a historic pace and have the best team in the league. They put a lot of stress on even the best defenses.

But the Magic were struggling even to play good defense. Their poor shooting fed the Bucks in transition a lot — 10 fast-break points — and did not allow the Magic to get set.

Orlando fell behind by 27 points at one point as Milwaukee hit 15 of 39 3-pointers to the Magic 10 of 40. The Magic’s oddly high amount of 3-pointers is a product of the Bucks’ focus on shutting down the lane to all comers. To beat Milwaukee, teams have to hit 3-pointers.

Orlando struggled with that basic task. The Magic missed several open 3-pointers with Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic going a combined 0 for 13 from deep. It was hard to complain about most of their looks either. The team just cannot consistently hit even the good looks they get.

And that only compounds the errors they make against quality teams like the Bucks.

Orlando deserves some credit for getting the lead down from 27 all the way to nine in the fourth quarter. The Magic’s defense got better as the game went on. They hit a few more shots to get them back into the game. But never enough to get all the way back.

The damage was done. The Magic struggled too much at the start to make up ground against a locked-in team like the Bucks.

C+. Give <a href=. F. Orlando Magic. AARON GORDON

Every problem for this Orlando Magic team goes down to shooting. The team needs to be able to hit shots from the outside and needs its best player to hit shots consistently anyway. <a href=. C. Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC. C+

B-. The Orlando Magic needed some shooting to get things back under control and cut into the deficit. In actuality, it was not 3-point shooting that cut the lead. It was the team taking that extra dribble in to hit a mid-range shot when they came in.<p>That was especially double for <a href=. G/F. Orlando Magic. TERRENCE ROSS

B. Earlier Saturday, the Orlando Magic announced they had signed <a href=. PF. Orlando Magic. GARY CLARK

B+. Every year, the rules change when the best team in the league comes to town. Those teams at the very top play on a different plane than everyone else. Staying in the game takes a near-perfect effort and probably some slippage form the other team to even open the door. The Magic somehow got that kind of a win over the <a href=. 45-7. 1st East. MILWAUKEE BUCKS

The Orlando Magic are now 22-31 and eighth in the Eastern Conference. They trail the Brooklyn Nets by two games for seventh in the Eastern Conference and lead the Washington Wizards by 2.5 games for the final spot in the playoffs.

Next. Orlando Magic have to make the most of themselves. dark

The Orlando Magic return to action at the Amway Center on Monday against the Atlanta Hawks.