The Milwaukee Bucks strolled into Orlando on Thursday having lost 17 straight road games against the Magic. Well, that streak ended in dominant fashion, as the Bucks led by 15 at halftime and at the final buzzer, winning 115-100.
Milwaukee (24-22) is now two games over .500, two games over .500 on the road and the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. No one really expected this kind of the season from the Bucks, who sure look like they’re having a lot of fun.
“We are,” Milwaukee center John Henson said on Ferrall on the Bench. “I think we’re moving the ball well, just getting everybody involved. Seven people scored in double figures. It’s tough to lose when we’re playing like that.”
Indeed, all five Milwaukee starters scored between 10 and 17 points. Among them were Khris Middleton (17 points), Jared Dudley (17) Brandon Knight (16), Henson (12) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (10).
Heck, the Bucks even had two double-digit scorers off the bench: O.J. Mayo (13), and Jerryd Bayless, who scored a game-high 19.
“I think when we get the starters and the bench to play together and play well, we’re tough to beat,” Henson said. “The bench helped also with coming and kind of shortening up the game, especially the last three weeks. Now that the starters are getting into a groove, I think it’s helping us out even more.”
Milwaukee forced 23 Magic turnovers, including 16 steals. Orlando also shot just 45.1 percent from the floor and 27.8 percent from three-point range.
“We let one slip away the last time we played here,” Henson said, “so we wanted to come out and play hard and we got the win.”
The Bucks shot 45-of-87 (51.7 percent) from the floor, including 12-of-25 (48 percent) from three. They got great productivity up and down their lineup and finished with 29 assists.
“We don’t have one guy that’s necessarily going to carry the team,” Henson said. “So we move the ball around and play like that and play with each other and play within ourselves. We’re doing a great job of that.”
Milwaukee has won three of its last four games, the only loss coming by six points in San Antonio. Yes, it appears that a young squad is starting to mature – and there’s no denying who deserves credit for that.
(Hint: It’s Jason Kidd.)
“It’s been great (playing for him),” Henson said. “He’s a (future) Hall of Famer, so he has our ear when he’s talking. He’s teaching us to do the right things as young team. It’s going to help us out in the long run, especially this year.”
Milwaukee hosts Portland this Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET before heading north for a Monday road game in Toronto.
“Just play hard,” Henson said of the team’s mindset going forward. “I think it’s kind of instilled in us now that we’re (46) games in. So we just got to keep it going.”