The Orlando Magic will try to avoid a three-game losing skid when they welcome the visiting Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday for an Eastern Conference matchup.
Milwaukee comes into Orlando off a 126-124 loss on Thursday at Indiana, despite 54 points from Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The outburst in which Antetokounmpo shot 19-of-25 from the floor and 16-of-18 from the foul line marked his season scoring-high, and was the seventh 50-plus-point game of his career. Thursday was the fourth time in the calendar year Antetokounmpo reached 50 points, after doing so three times from Jan. 3 through Feb. 2 last season.
The two-time Most Valuable Player registered his season high one night after recording a season-low of 15 points in just 21:52 of playing time Wednesday in a 120-118 win over Detroit after receiving two technical foul calls.
“I was tired,” Antetokounmpo said of the Wednesday-Thursday back-to-back. “What people don’t understand is it’s not about how minutes I play in the game, it’s the preparation for the game. It’s shootaround, it’s lifting weights, it’s recovery … If I play 15 or 35 minutes, it doesn’t make a difference.”
Antetokounmpo logged a season-high 36:29 on Thursday.
Damian Lillard carried the scoring load against the Pistons with 34 points, his third 30-plus-point effort of the season. The seven-time All-NBA guard acquired in an offseason deal from Portland was a late scratch from the lineup ahead of Thursday’s game due to right calf soreness.
Lillard’s status for Saturday is unclear as of Friday, but the Bucks’ lineup is otherwise at full strength.
Orlando comes in without Wendell Carter Jr. due to a broken bone in his left hand. Carter has been sidelined since having his best outing of the season — a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double Nov. 2 at Utah — and will be reevaluated in a few weeks.
The Magic also have been without Gary Harris for the last three games due to a groin injury.
Saturday’s contest is a brief pit stop back home for the Magic before they embark on a four-game road swing beginning Tuesday in Brooklyn. The Magic faced Atlanta in Mexico City on Thursday, where they dropped a 120-119 decision after coughing up an 11-point fourth-quarter advantage.
“We turned the ball over 18 times for 25 points. We missed 10 free throws. That’s the game,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. “We talked about not beating ourselves, and this was one of those games.”
Orlando is averaging 16.3 turnovers per game early into the 2023-24 season, more than all but four teams through games played Thursday. The team’s 72.8 percent free-throw shooting is lower than all but five teams in the league.
The Magic have created takeaways at a high rate, however, with opponents committing 17.1 turnovers a game — the NBA’s fourth-highest rate. Orlando averages the second-most steals per game at 9.8 through Thursday’s games.
Jalen Suggs’ 2.3 steals lead the team and rank in the league’s top five. Paolo Banchero, who is scoring a team-leading 18 points per game, is averaging 1.5 steals a contest.
–Field Level Media