LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks still haven’t figured out how to slow down Nikola Vucevic. They did shut down his Orlando Magic teammates well enough to tie the Eastern Conference first-round series.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 28 points and 20 rebounds and Milwaukee rode a fast start to beat the Magic 111-96 yesterday in Game 2. The victory came two days after the team that boasted the NBA’s best regular-season record opened the playoffs by losing 122-110 to Orlando.
“There’s an urgency,” Antetokounmpo said. “I’m not going to say there’s a fear factor — being down — but you know you have to be urgent.”
Milwaukee bounced back, building a 23-point lead in the first half, though Orlando got the margin down to nine in the fourth quarter. Orlando had no points in the paint for the entire first quarter and went nearly eight minutes without a basket during a first-half stretch.
Antetokounmpo said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer set the tone for the game with the message he delivered during a film session.
“He told us if we want to win and if we want to go far and if we want to be us, we’ve got to play defence, and we didn’t do that in the first game,” Antetokounmpo said. “I think everybody took that personally. Nobody liked that. Nobody wants to hear that he’s not playing hard enough, so I think whole team came out playing hard. Everybody was playing hard.”
Brook Lopez scored 20 points and Pat Connaughton had 15 on five-of-eight three-point shooting for Milwaukee. Eric Bledsoe had 13 points and Donte DiVincenzo added 11.
The Bucks withstood another huge effort from Vucevic, who followed up his 35-point effort in the opener by scoring 32 points.