Magic-Bucks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 16, 2013
After losing to the NBA's hottest team, the Milwaukee Bucks hope to avoid matching their longest skid of the season while hosting Florida's other, currently less successful, club. Looking to get back on track offensively, the Bucks try to avoid a fourth straight defeat Sunday against the lowly Orlando Magic. Though Milwaukee (32-32) has a seven-game lead over Toronto for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, it's dropped three in a row. The Bucks averaged 109.7 points and shot 48.1 percent to win five of seven before failing to score more than 94 while shooting 41.4 in the last two versus Washington and red-hot Miami. Ersan Ilyasova had 26 points with 17 rebounds and Brandon Jennings scored 21, but the Bucks shot 37.1 percent Friday as the Heat extended their winning streak to 21 games with a 107-94 victory at the Bradley Center. "The last couple of games we've had a lot of good looks and the ball is just not dropping in for us now," Milwaukee coach Jim Boylan said. "Over the course of a long season you have these spots where your shooters aren't shooting the ball the way you'd like." J.J. Redick had 14 points and shot 4 of 11 - his second-worst shooting performance since being acquired from Orlando at the trade deadline. Redick is averaging 14.2 points and hitting 35.1 percent of his 3-pointers in 10 games with the Bucks, and this will be his first game against the Magic, the team that drafted him with the 11th pick of the 2006 draft. Monta Ellis averaged 26.8 points on 51.4 percent shooting in the previous nine contests but went 3 of 11 from the field and finished with seven against the Heat. Though Jennings broke out after totaling 12 points in the previous two, he's shot 14 of 41 (34.1 percent), including 4 of 15 from 3-point range, in the last four games. Jennings and Ellis combined for 41 points on 15-of-32 shooting (46.9 percent) to help the Bucks snap a seven-game losing streak to Orlando (18-48) with a 107-98 home victory Feb. 2. In five games versus Orlando since 2009-10, Ellis has shot 50.5 percent to average 28.6 points - his best against any opponent. Jennings is averaging 23.0 points on 50.0 percent (26 of 52) shooting in three straight against the Magic. A victory Sunday would secure Milwaukee's first winning season series over Orlando since 2004-05. The Bucks might have a good chance to accomplish that and end their recent offensive struggles while facing the Magic, who have allowed 108.8 points on 50.3 percent shooting to lose seven of nine. Orlando trailed by as many 27 points but got within four before going scoreless in the final 2 1/2 minutes of Friday's 117-104 loss at Oklahoma City. Jameer Nelson scored 26, Nikola Vucevic had 21 with 14 rebounds and Arron Afflalo added 20 for the Magic, who have lost 35 of 41. The losses will likely continue to mount as Orlando began a stretch Friday of playing 14 of its 17 games against teams currently in playoff position. "This is a great test for us, it starts (in Oklahoma City) and it will continue the rest of the way by playing a majority of playoff teams who are jockeying for playoff position," coach Jacque Vaughn told the Magic's official website. "There are no off nights or sympathy nights. So we better bring it or we'll get embarrassed. That's a great motivator.''
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