Coupled with Atlanta's 97-90 loss to San Antonio, the Magic
clinched the No. 4 seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Orlando won three of four in the season series to improve to 16-5
in its last 21 meetings against the Bucks.
Hedo Turkoglu, who finished with 12 points and hit a big jumper
to help secure the win, said locking up the fourth seed is a
secondary thought right now.
"We're not really thinking about that," Turkoglu said. "We're
just playing as a group to get better as we're getting close to the
playoffs. When the time comes ... we just have to be conditioned
right and be at the highest level we can and try to do our best."
Orlando got off to a fast start and tapered off from there. The Magic
shot just 38 percent, missing their final 19 attempts from the
Milwaukee's dwindling playoff hopes took a big hit. Entering
Tuesday, any combination of two Bucks losses or victories by idle
Indiana eliminated them from postseason contention. Milwaukee could
be officially eliminated Wednesday if it loses at Miami.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said the offensive effort was
frustrating and working out the kinks over the rest of the regular
season is still a work in progress.
"We've got some ideas of what we're going to do, but I'm not
totally set yet," he said.
Nelson, who logged 42 minutes in each of the Magic's previous
two games, was able to get a little more rest Tuesday with backup
point guards Gilbert Arenas and Chris Duhon both returning to the
Arenas had missed two straight games with flulike symptoms and
Duhon three consecutive games with a sprained ligament in his right
"We have four games left now, and we have to use these four
games as a way for us to build momentum going into the playoffs,"
Duhon said. "We want to be playing at our best and there's still
time to get there."
Orlando led by as many as 16 in the first half, but Brandon
Jennings' running layup tied it at 61 with 9:23 remaining in the
game. Milwaukee threatened to take the lead on several trips over
the next three minutes, but struggled to get the go-ahead bucket to
The Magic opened a 70-64 lead before Gooden converted two
three-point plays to leave it tied again at 72. Nelson responded
with a deep jumper that put Orlando in front again, Andrew Bogut
had a turnover on the other end, and Turkoglu hit a jumper to make
it 76-72 with just 47.6 seconds left.
Jennings missed a 3 on the Bucks' next trip and a rebound by the
Magic helped seal it.
"We had our chances," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "As
poorly as we played, our defense hung in there and gave us a chance
to win. We just couldn't take advantage of it."
Van Gundy gave his team the day off Monday and also canceled its
usual gameday shootaround. The rest seemed to help early as Orlando
jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the opening five minutes and led 42-33
at the break.
As impressive as the opening spurt was, neither team was
particularly impressive in the first half offensively.
Milwaukee shot just 32 percent from the floor with eight
turnovers. Orlando shot 55 percent (11 for 20) in the first
quarter, but just 2 for 14 in the second. The Magic had 11
turnovers of their own, but were able to keep the lead at the
free throw line, connecting on 14 of their 20 attempts.
The Bucks missed their first eight shots of the game, prompting
Skiles to call a timeout with 6:40 left. He benched his entire
starting five the rest of the period and for the start of the
Milwaukee didn't get its first basket until Gooden scored with
6:31 to play in the first via a goaltending call on Howard.
"The bench did a [heck] of a job getting us back in the game,"
Bogut said. "We shoot 30 percent and we're still in it. ... We
just couldn't score ourselves."
Van Gundy was whistled for his ninth technical foul of
the season with 2:48 remaining in the second quarter. It tied him
with Portland's Nate McMillan for the league lead among coaches.
... Magic G J.J. Redick sat out his 13th straight game with a lower
abdominal strain. Van Gundy said they expect to know more about his
prognosis on Thursday or Friday.