Vucevic and Magic stun No1 seed Bucks in NBA playoff series opener

Vucevic and Magic stun No1 seed Bucks in NBA playoff series opener

Nikola Vucevic scored a playoff career-high 35 points and had 14 rebounds, and the Orlando Magic stunned the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks 122-110 on Tuesday in the teams’ playoff opener.

Terrence Ross scored 18 points, Gary Clark added 15 and DJ Augustin had 11 points and 11 assists for the eighth-seeded Magic, who took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 31 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists for Milwaukee, but was held without a field goal over the final 11 minutes.

The Bucks came into the postseason as the favorites to win their first NBA title since 1971 despite finishing 3-5 in seeding games. But their sluggish play in the bubble at Disney World carried over into the postseason.

Milwaukee swept the season series against Orlando, winning four games by an average of 17 points, but struggled with the Magic’s stingy defense, which repeatedly clogged the lane and forced Antetokounmpo to settle for jump shots.

The Bucks’ frustration was evident when center Brook Lopez stomped on a chair – and then kicked it – in the bench area during a timeout.

The Magic led most of the game.

Orlando used an early 15-2 run to build a 51-33 lead midway through the second quarter behind 16 points from Vucevic.

The Bucks bounced back to close the gap to 10 at halftime as Antetokounmpo began to assert himself offensively, finishing the first half with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Milwaukee made several runs in the second half, but the Magic had an answer every time.

Vucevic had 14 points in the third quarter, scoring down low against smaller defenders and stepping out to knock down threes against bigger men as the Magic carried a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter.

The Bucks trimmed the lead to six in the fourth, but Ross had a dunk and a layup off hard cuts to the basket and Augustin and Vucevic added threes to push the lead back to 14. Evan Fournier, who went scoreless for three quarters, then buried the Bucks with three 3-pointers in the final five minutes.

Antetokoumpo played his first game in a week. He was suspended for the final seeding game for head-butting Washington’s Moe Wagner during Milwaukee’s win over the Wizards.