Bucks 105, Magic 97
Jones tied the NBA’s season high with 17 assists—without committing a turnover—in leading the Bucks to their fourth straight victory, 105-97 over the Orlando Magic.
Keith Van Horn led Milwaukee’s balanced attack with 25 points, while Michael Redd had 24, Desmond Mason 22 and Dan Gadzuric 12. The four combined to shoot 33-for-54 (61 percent), and scored 18 points in the final 5:21 as the Bucks scored on 10 of their last 11 possessions.
“I can’t take all the credit for the 17 assists,” said Jones, whose previous career best was 13. “Keith made some shots on the pick-and-roll, Michael Redd made some shots coming off the down pick, Desmond, in transition, got to the basket and Dan Gadzuric caught a few lobs.”
“Distributing the ball, getting the ball to guys in the right spots so they can finish—that’s what being a point guard’s all about,” said Mason, who made seven of 10 shots and eight of 12 free throws.
After starting point guard T.J. Ford bruised his spinal column in a fall Feb. 24, the Bucks turned to Jones. The career reserve has made the most of his opportunity, posting 53 assists against two turnovers over the last five games.
“I hope T.J.’s health gets better and that he’s able to play before too long,” said Jones, who added nine points, including a key 3-pointer, and a team-high seven rebounds. “But while he’s out, I’m going to try and keep (it) rocking.”
Ford is expected back in a week or two.
The Bucks won their third straight road game following a skid of seven away from Milwaukee. It was an auspicious beginning to a stretch where they play nine of 13 games away from home. This victory starts a four-game road trip, and a five-game West Coast swing looms later this month.
“I think we’re starting to establish ourselves as a solid road team,” Van Horn said. “In order for us to secure a three or four spot (in playoff seeding), we’re going to have to win the games on the road.”
For the Magic, Tracy McGrady, with a cranky back, scored 20 of his 31 points after halftime.
“Every time I sit down and get up, it’s the worst pain,” said McGrady, 11-for-27 from the field and 5-of-15 on 3-pointers. “It takes me a while to get loose and get going. Once I start running, I’m fine.”
Orlando lost for the fourth time in five games and its third straight at home.
After McGrady sank a 3-pointer to bring Orlando within 88-85 with 4:22 to go, Redd responded with a three-point play. McGrady followed with a putback off his own miss, but Jones came right back with a 3-pointer—his only shot of the second half.
Milwaukee sealed the win in the last two minutes on Jones’ pass—tying Marbury—that set up Gadzuric’s slam, and two short baskets from Van Horn.
Van Horn shot 11-for-19, and made all three 3-pointers. Since coming from New York in a Feb. 15 trade, he’s averaging 18.7 points on 49.5 percent shooting, going 14-for-24 on 3-pointers.
“Keith is just a solid player and he can do a lot of things for us. He can extend the defense, but also put it on the floor,” Milwaukee coach TerryPorter said. “It’s great to have him.”
Jones’ nine assists in the first period tied the single-quarter record for an Orlando opponent. … Milwaukee power forward Joe Smith missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle … Before the game, Orlando activated center Andrew DeClercq from the injured list. He underwent surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee Feb. 10. DeClercq finished with four points and seven rebounds. … The Bucks have won six of the last eight games inOrlando and 15 of the last 18 there.