Orlando Magic coach Jamahl Mosley made clear ahead of Wednesday night’s 139-117 road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, and throughout the season, what their top defensive priority was: protecting the paint.
They accomplished that challenge.
The problem was that this helped open up scoring opportunities for the league-best Bucks (45-17) beyond the 3-point arc, with Milwaukee knocking down a season-high 26 of 56 3s (46.4%) en route to its 16th consecutive victory.
Four Bucks knocked down at least four 3s and were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 31 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in 28 minutes.
The Magic (26-37) prioritized minimizing Milwaukee’s scoring presence in the paint (38 points in the paint allowed) but didn’t match the Bucks’ shotmaking, only knocking down 9-of-33 3s.
Cole Anthony scored a season-high 28 points (10-of-16 shooting, 3-of-7 on 3s) to go with 7 rebounds and 4 assists, and was a significant reason why the Magic only trailed 76-66 at halftime.
But Milwaukee blitzed Orlando in the second half, taking a 26-point lead in the fourth before cruising to victory.
Despite rejoining the team in Milwaukee Tuesday, forward Jonathan Isaac wasn’t available and was ruled out 3½ hours ahead of tipoff because of a strained right hamstring/adductor.
He didn’t travel with the team to New Orleans for Monday’s 101-93 win over the Pelicans.
Isaac, who’s missed three consecutive games, stayed in Central Florida to start the three-game trip to undergo further evaluations but went through drills during Tuesday’s practice at Fiserv Forum.
Friday’s matchup against the Hornets closes out the swing.
The Magic are operating with an abundance of caution with Isaac after he was sidelined for 2½ years before returning to the court last month.
Isaac was sidelined from August 2020 until Jan. 11 after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Aug. 2, 2020, during the league’s restart in its Disney World bubble.
He had surgery on the right hamstring last March while rehabbing from the left knee injury.
Isaac made his return with the Magic’s G League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic, earlier this year and played three games for Lakeland before making his return to Orlando in the Jan. 23 win over the Boston Celtics.
He’s averaged 5 points, 4 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 11.3 minutes (11 games) since returning.
The Magic, who are in pursuit of a spot in the play-in tournament, have just 19 games remaining in the regular season after Wednesday’s matchup against the league-leading Bucks.
Seeds 7-10 in each conference compete in the play-in tournament for the Nos. 7 and 8 seeds in the playoffs.
After Wednesday’s games, the Magic are:
- 5 games behind Toronto for the No. 9 spot in the East.
- 4 games behind Washington for the No. 10 spot.
- 3 games behind Chicago for No. 11.
- 2 games behind Indiana for No. 12.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.
Source: Berkshire mont
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