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Basketball / Sports

The Orlando Magic's Maurice Harkless scores against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., on Friday, Jan. 31, 2014. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/MCT)

Magic top Bucks in battle of the cellar dwellers

ORLANDO, Fla. -- It was billed as the league's two worst teams playing in a not-so-super bowl.

And in the race for draft lottery position, the Milwaukee Bucks were clear winners Friday night.

But that's about the only winning the Bucks have done lately. They fell behind by 21 points at halftime and were never really competitive in a 113-102 loss to the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center.

Milwaukee (8-38) finished January with a 1-14 record and lost for the 16th consecutive time in Orlando, a streak dating to December 2004.

The Magic (13-35) moved four games ahead of the Bucks, who are on pace to break the franchise record for futility (20 victories) set by the 1993-'94 Milwaukee team.

It certainly appears the Bucks will be in the pole position when the NBA draft lottery takes place May 20.

Bucks coach Larry Drew shook up his lineup before the game, inserting rookie guard Nate Wolters as a starter and bringing rookie forward Giannis Antetokounmpo off the bench.

And the Bucks played without center John Henson, who sat out with a sprained right wrist.

"I told them at halftime, 'This is a process and you've got to fall in love with the process of learning how to win,'" Bucks forward Caron Butler said.

"We've got a game (Saturday night). Nobody is going to help you out of the predicament and there's no cavalry over the hill. It's just us. So we've got to figure it out. I just tell the guys to stay with it."

The Bucks allowed 67 points in the first half, the most they have given up in a half this season. And they trailed, 35-20, after the opening quarter.

"We couldn't contain them off the dribble," Drew said. "We fouled jump shooters.

"It's tough to overcome those type of mistakes."

Khris Middleton fouled Arron Afflalo on a three-point attempt in the opening minute of the game and the Magic took off from there.

Afflalo finished with 21 points and former Bucks forward Tobias Harris added 18 points in 30 minutes off the bench. Rookie guard Victor Oladipo had 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Veteran guard Gary Neal returned to the Bucks rotation after not playing in the previous five games due to coach's decision.

"I just think the young players we have out there playing, it's just a process of learning how to compete at this level night in and night out," Neal said.

Butler finished with 20 points and sank 4 three-pointers while sparking the Bucks to a 38-point fourth quarter, but Milwaukee entered the final period trailing, 88-64.

Neal added 13 points and center Larry Sanders had 10 points, nine rebounds, four steals and four blocks.

Sanders said he is feeling more comfortable with the protective wrap off his right hand and he actually was able to dunk with one hand Friday.

"I feel good out there," Sanders said. "I'm able to transition from possession to possession and not dwell too much on whatever play just happened.

"I'm getting more confidence back in my hands now that I can use my right. I can palm the ball (again)."

Antetokounmpo came off the bench after making 21 straight starts and struggled in the first half before finishing with 15 points and seven rebounds.

"We knew there would be some matchup problems, Giannis playing on some of the smaller guys, and Khris as well," Drew said. "Those guys are fast, they're quick, they're strong."

Wolters played 41 minutes and contributed eight points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

"I wasn't even expecting to play that many," Wolters said. "I was a little fatigued out there the whole second half.

"It's definitely an adjustment starting and all that. Hopefully I'll do it some more. I thought I could have done a lot better and as a team we could have done a lot better.

"We played with a better flow the second half but still couldn't get enough stops."

(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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