Bucks overcome slow start to defeat Magic
MILWAUKEE—Brandon Knight scored 24 points and sparked Milwaukee’s rousing rally from an 18-point deficit with a dunk to lead the Bucks to a 105-98 win Monday night over the Orlando Magic.
Knight confounded Orlando with a quick first step and threw down a dunk for a 74-71 lead with 10:57 left after Ramon Sessions went high for an outlet pass in the lane and patted the ball back to his driving backcourt mate.
The lead swelled to 95-81 with 2:49 left before Orlando mounted its own late charge to get within three off a 3 from Jameer Nelson with 35 seconds left.
But the Bucks hit their foul shots late and Orlando was hurt after Nikola Vucevic was whistled for an offensive foul with 22 seconds left.
A game between two of the worst teams in the league—the Bucks and Magic had combined for 95 losses coming into the night—turned into an entertaining affair down the stretch that saw the Bucks snap a three-game skid.
Knight was the difference. His hustling play was in stark contrast to the lethargic Bucks squad that allowed Orlando to build a 31-13 lead with a 13-0 run. Orlando’s Tobias Harris had 11 during the spurt against his former team.
Nelson finished with 13 while Maurice Harkless had 14 for Orlando, which landed seven players in double figures. All of Harris’ points came during the early run.
Several times early in the contest it looked as though the Magic would hold on for their fifth road victory of the year. They even got guard Victor Oladipo back after the rookie missed the last two games with left ankle soreness.
But the stretch run belonged to Knight, who at one point went shot-for-shot late in the third quarter with Oladipo while Milwaukee chipped away at the big deficit.
Knight nearly singlehandedly blew past Orlando to start the fourth.
A layup with 11:21 left gave Milwaukee a 72-71 lead, its first advantage since the quarter.
Then came Knight’s dunk. Sessions forced a steal before the loose ball got to teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo. The rookie threw a high pass down court back to Sessions, who jumped with one arm outstretched and got the ball to the streaking Knight for the throwdown.
After another missed Magic shot, Knight hurt Orlando again, this time with a 3 from the wing for a 77-71 lead with 10:30 left.
Khris Middleton added three fourth-quarter 3s to help the Bucks build its own double-digit lead before having to stave off Orlando’s last-ditch rally.
Oladipo came off the bench and finished with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
Middleton had 21 points, while Ersan Ilyasova added 16 points and 11 rebounds. Ilyasova gave Milwaukee a spark in the first half before Knight lifted the team in the second.
NOTES: The Magic fell to a league-worst 4-30 on the road. … Vucevic finished with a double-double off 12 points and 12 rebounds. … Knight extended his career-best streak of scoring in double-digits to 18 straight games.