Green revives Magic in 112-96 win over Bucks

Green revives Magic in 112-96 win over Bucks

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Orlando Magic still have a pulse. It took veteran reserve Jeff Green to bring it back.

Green awakened his team from another bad start Friday night, sparking the Magic with 18 points and some contagious defensive play that fueled a 112-96 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at the Amway Center.

Point guard Elfrid Payton had 20 points and seven Magic players scored in double figures, but Green provided the toughness then needed after a disastrous road trip (1-5) and a poor start this month (2-8) threatened to end any hopes for the playoffs this season.

“We can be a playoff team,” Green said. “It’s a long season. Things happen, but if we can play like this, with this kind of commitment, we can become one of the better defensive teams in this league. Then anything can happen. We’re not that far away.”

The Magic (18-27) snapped a three-game losing streak and ended a defensive dive they have taken recently. They failed to hold anyone under 100 points during their recent six-game road trip.

“Poor defense is why we have the record we have,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “I hope we can build on this. We just need wins right now. It’s just a matter of hard work and commitment to what we’re doing.Jeff Green led the charge tonight.”

The Bucks (20-22) lost their fourth consecutive game, prompting a 30-minute, closed-door meeting afterward.

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Jabari Parker led the Bucks with 25 points, six rebounds and six assists. Giannis Antetokounmpo, named a starter Thursday in the upcoming NBA All-Star Game, had 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Rookie Malcolm Brogdon had 16 points, including four 3-pointers.

The Bucks never serious challenged the Magic in the second half.

“We just have to find our way out of this slump,” Parker said. “We’ll find our way out of it. We need more enthusiasm. After the first quarter, we didn’t have any momentum. We need to move on and win the next game.”

The Bucks scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to seven points, but that was as close as they came.

Antetokounmpo fouled out with 4:34 remaining and the Bucks trailing 102-88. Green knocked Antetokounmpo to the floor with a hard foul early in the fourth quarter.

“We had no energy. No effort,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “Give Orlando credit, though. They were more aggressive. Their intent was to hit first, and they hit us, and we backed down.”

The Bucks opened the game with a 19-9 lead, but then Green entered and everything changed. The Bucks never quite recovered.

Aaron Gordon had 17 points and eight rebounds. Bismark Biyombo, Serge Ibaka and Nikola Vucevic each scored 13 points. D.J. Augustin had 10 points and Green added seven rebounds.

“When Jeff plays like that, we’re a different team,” Gordon said. “When he’s aggressive and assertive like that throughout the game, we are a very, very good team.”

The Magic scored the last seven points of the third quarter to take an 88-74 lead. Little-used Mario Hezonja hit a 3-pointer in the late rally. Brogdon hit his third 3-pointer of the game early in the quarter when the Bucks cut the deficit to four.

The Magic led 59-55 at intermission. They trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half but led by as many as 11 points in the second.

Parker led everyone with 19 points in the first half when he hit three of his five 3-point attempts. Payton had 11 points, five assists and rebounds before intermission.

The teams split their two meetings earlier this season with each team winning on the road.

NOTES: The mother and girlfriend of Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo surprised him Friday morning by arriving at his hotel in Orlando to help celebrate his first All-Star selection, which was announced Thursday night. Jamie Dinan, one of the three primary team owners, also came to town to congratulate him. Antetokounmpo became the first Milwaukee player since Sidney Moncrief in 1986 to be named a starter for the All-Star Game and the first player selected to the Eastern Conference team from Milwaukee since Michael Redd in 2004. “Hard work pays off,” he said Friday. ... Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway became just the third player inducted into the Magic Hall of Fame on Friday. Hardaway played just six seasons with the Magic and with Shaquille O’Neal helped lead them to the NBA Finals in 1995. ... Magic G C.J. Watson started his first game of the season Friday night because injuries have decimated the team’s backcourt. Leading scorer Evan Fournier missed his fourth consecutive game with a sore right foot. Backup Jodie Meeks, who had been starting in Fournier’s spot, sustained a dislocated right thumb on Wednesday and will be out for the next four weeks. ... Magic G C.J. Wilcox remains sidelined by tendinitis in an ankle and knee. “We’ll do it by committee now,” coach Frank Vogel said.