It’s usually not a good sign when a team turns the ball over on their first possession and then gives up a fast-break dunk at the other end but that is exactly what happened to the Bucks in Friday night’s game against the Magic. It’s not a secret that the Bucks were climbing an uphill battle with a couple of their star players out. Michael Redd has knee issues and Andrew Bogat has a stress fracture in his back. The Bucks (31-42) are trying to limp into the playoffs but having lost five of their last six games coming into Friday’s battle with Orlando, it’s not looking too good for their postseason aspirations.
The Magic (54-18) have won five straight and 12 of their last 14 to stay percentage points ahead of Boston for the Eastern Conference’s second seed.
The Magic jumped out to a quick lead thanks to some great defense early but then started giving up too many easy looks to keep the Bucks in the game. The lead changed several times in the second quarter but then with less than a minute to go in the half, Turkoglu hit an open jumper after a rare crossover that sent Luke Mbah a Moute falling, and Redick followed that up with a smooth reverse lay-up with his left hand past Jefferson that gave the Magic a 49-43 halftime lead. After that they never looked back.
In the “something you don’t see everyday” category, the coach for the Bucks, Scott Skiles, was hit with a technical foul in the second quarter when he argued a close goaltending call against his team. In an odd officiating blunder, the refs started to award the Bucks a free throw. Ridnour started to shoot, but officials corrected the mistake and gave the Magic the free throw, which Redick missed.
Balanced scoring was the key to this victory with all five starters scoring in double digits. Rashad Lewis led the way with 19 points and tied his season high in blocks with three. Turkoglu and Howard both finished with 18. For the Bucks, C. Bell and R. Simmons both had 19 to lead their team while Richard Jefferson struggled from the field going only 5-24.
The Magic definitely look poised to make some noise in the playoffs.