No Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, and Aaron Gordon?
Playing without their two best players and an additional rising star, the Orlando Magic cruised to a 107-98 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in their home finale.
While the Magic (35-46) will be missing the playoffs for the fourth straight year, the team ended their home regular season on a high note. The win caps a home season where the Magic finished 23-18 at the Amway Center, the first time the team finished above 20 wins at home since 2012.
Magic forward Ersan Ilyasova led the way with 22 points on 10-for-13 shooting against his former team. Magic head coach Scott Skiles says a few easy buckets was all Ilyasova needed to find his stroke.
“Ersan hasn’t changed,” said Jason Kidd, Milwaukee head coach. “That’s who he is. He’s a warrior. He’s a competitor. He’s a winner. He made plays on both ends.”
The Magic sprinted to a 58-44 halftime lead behind a hot start from 12 first-quarter points from center DeWayne Dedmon. Point guard Elfrid Payton says he doesn’t need much help from his teammates to find his rhythm.
Ilyasova opened the second-half with a baseline jumper to get things going. Ilyasova would go on to score 10 of his 22 points in the third quarter. The Magic entered the fourth quarter with a comfortable 85-73 lead.
After three made free throws by Khris Middleton, the Bucks were about to cut it to a 100-96 deficit with just over three minutes remaining.
But two possessions later, rookie Mario Hezonja answered with a three-pointer from the right wing to give the Magic some breathing room and extend the lead 103-96. Hezonja tallied 19 points (on 7-for-11 shooting), with seven rebounds and five steals.
Milwaukee had a chance to take it down the wire but they turned the ball over twice and missed badly an easy alley-oop in the final two minutes to seal their fate.
Six Magic players finished in double-figures, including all five starters.
Up next, the Magic hope to end the season on an even higher note when they travel to take on the Charlotte Hornets (47-34) in their regular-season finale.
Ryan Nelson contributed to this report.