The Orlando Magic have only four wins this season, but three have come away from home.
Any optimism about their fortunes on the road, however, runs head-on into two games in three days against the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, with the first game set for Saturday night.
The Magic will be wrapping up a five-game, eight-day trip, which has seen them drop two of the first three.
They will be facing a Milwaukee team that is looking to win its third game in a row for the first time this season.
The Bucks opened a five-game homestand by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 109-102 on Wednesday and Oklahoma City 96-89 on Friday. Giannis Antetokounmpo combined for 68 points and 28 rebounds.
Antetokounmpo had 21 points, 19 rebounds (all on the defensive end), seven assists and four blocks against Oklahoma City. Against the Lakers, the two-time league MVP became the fifth player in the last 20 seasons to score 45 or more points (47) on 75 percent or better shooting from both the field (18-for-23) and 3-point range (3-for-4).
The Bucks welcomed back one of their other top scoring options this week, as Khris Middleton returned after missing eight games due to a positive COVID-19 test. Middleton became Milwaukee’s all-time leader in made 3-pointers (1,054) on Friday when he hit three triples against the Thunder, allowing him to break a tie with Ray Allen.
“I think we all just admire what Khris does every night,” Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer said. “His ability to shoot, the different ways he gets 3s and his kind of consistency and longevity here.”
Milwaukee’s Bobby Portis also had a double-double on Friday with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Middleton scored 16 points on 5-for-13 shooting, George Hill had 12 points off the bench, Grayson Allen scored 11 and Jrue Holiday 10.
Three of Orlando’s four single-digit losses have come on the road — including Friday’s 115-113 setback to Brooklyn, as the short-handed Nets overcame a 16-point deficit after one quarter.
The Magic are 3-6 on the road, but they’re just 1-6 at home, with five of those losses by double digits.
Magic rookie Jalen Suggs, who had been questionable against Brooklyn due to a right quad contusion, tied his career-high with 21 points thanks to a 4-for-9 effort from beyond the arc.
Orlando led 41-25 after the first quarter as Brooklyn played without starters Kevin Durant (shoulder) and Joe Harris (ankle). But the Nets held a 65-42 scoring edge during the middle quarters and held on down the stretch as James Harden finished with 36 points — including hitting 19 of 20 free throws — to go with 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Chuma Okeke (17 points) scored in double figures for the first time this season as Orlando’s bench totaled 46 points.
Franz Wagner contributed 17 points, Cole Anthony had 16 points and nine assists, Terrence Ross hit three triples and finished with 15 points, and Mo Bamba posted 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Playing on back-to-back nights means the Magic won’t have much time to dwell on the loss — a game they led by as many as 19 points (58-39) with 5:21 left in the second quarter.
“We go for the next one and we just continue to work,” Orlando head coach Jamahl Mosley said postgame. “We’ll watch the film and understand what we did and what we can continue to improve, and where we can continue to grow.
“We did some really good things in this game. We competed, a couple free throws here and there, a couple of shots made here and there, a stop down the stretch. But, again, these are learning lessons that we’ll continue to get better from.”
–Field Level Media