Magic hoping to cut down on errors against tough Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks have been spectacularly consistent all season.

The reigning NBA MVP and the team with the league’s best record (44-7) look to continue their respective torrid stretches on Saturday when they visit the Orlando Magic.

Antetokounmpo had 36 points, a season-high 20 rebounds and six assists in Milwaukee’s 112-101 victory over Philadelphia on Thursday.

The performance marked his 11th contest of at least 30 points, 15 rebounds and five assists on the season and fifth consecutive, with the latter mark tying Hall of Fame member Wilt Chamberlain for the longest such streak in NBA history.

“I gotta keep making plays, I gotta stay aggressive,” the 25-year-old Antetokounmpo said following the Bucks’ league-best 29th double-digit win. “That’s what I get paid to do, that’s what my teammates want me to do, that’s what I’m going to do all night.

“It doesn’t really matter if I make shots. I can still make plays for my teammates, so that’s the mindset that I have.”

Antetokounmpo, who averages team-best totals in points (30.2), rebounds (13.4) and assists (5.8), averaged slightly above those totals in Milwaukee’s first two victories over Orlando this season. Back soreness forced him to sit out the Bucks’ 111-100 win over the Magic on Dec. 28.

Khris Middleton, who scored 21 points in that meeting, had 16 of his 20 points in the second half of Thursday’s victory as Milwaukee rode an aggressive defensive performance to improve to 12-1 in its past 13 games.

The surging Bucks elected to stand pat at the NBA’s trade deadline, a decision that was met without issue from either Antetokounmpo or coach Mike Budenholzer.

“I feel really great about our team,” Budenholzer said. “We’ve been even better for the first 50 games than we were last year. The continuity means a lot to us. We’ve been together for a season and a half, a lot of us. We feel that’s an edge we have. Some years you make a trade and some years you don’t.”

While optimism reigns supreme in Milwaukee, Orlando is attempting to pick up the pieces after sustaining its seventh loss in eight games following Thursday’s 105-103 setback at New York.

Nikola Vucevic made 9 of 13 shots to finish with 25 points in the setback to the Knicks. He is 34 of 60 (56.7 percent) from the floor in his past four games.

Turnovers have been to blame in their two recent losses, with both Vucevic and Magic coach Steve Clifford underscoring that fact.

“We just have to be better in that area,” the 29-year-old Vucevic said, per the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s just really giving away a possession. If you take a shot, no matter what the shot is, it gives you a chance to set your defense. When it’s a live ball turnover it’s harder to recover from that, especially when you have as many (turnovers) as we had tonight.”

Clifford, in fact, cited the turnover total in both Wednesday’s 116-100 loss in Boston as well as in the loss to the Knicks.

“I just told the guys, last night 17 and tonight 21, with four I believe in the last four minutes, (with) two bad ones,” Clifford said.

–Field Level Media

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