On Wednesday morning, Orlando Magic rookie Maurice Harkless was asked what he and his teammates needed to learn with 78 games down and just four to go.
He answered without hesitating. The Magic, he said, needed to learn how to close out games.
A few hours later, they took a positive step, thanks to three former Milwaukee Bucks.
Tobias Harris, Doron Lamb and Beno Udrih tormented their old team by leading the Magic to a 113-103 overtime win over the Bucks in J.J. Redick’s first game in Orlando since the teams’ Feb. 21 blockbuster trade.
“It’s about time that we closed out a game,” Harris said. “We’ve been so close. When we got down, I was just thinking, ‘Man, this is déjà vu again.’ But we just fought hard as a team.”
It took a climactic basket by Harris to send the game into overtime.
Harris tied the score 95-95 when he sank a 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left in regulation as Milwaukee’s Marquis Daniels fouled him. But Harris’ ensuing free throw — the potential game-winning free throw — was off-target.
Lamb, a rookie who rarely played during his Bucks tenure, scored five of his career-high 16 points in the extra period.
“I didn’t really focus on [getting revenge],” Lamb said. “I was just trying to get a win for my teammates.”
Harris tied a career high by scoring 30 points and added a career-high 19 rebounds against his former team, while Nik Vucevic added a career-high 30 points and 20 rebounds.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no pair of teammates had scored at least 30 points and collected at least 19 rebounds since March 15, 1967, when the duo of Willis Reed and Walt Bellamy did it for the New York Knicks in a loss to the Baltimore Bullets.
Redick finished with 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting.
For him, the night’s highlight may have been a 55-second video tribute to him during the first timeout of the first quarter.
Redick peeked several times at the scoreboard, and as the tribute ended, the fans in Amway Center's lower bowl gave him a standing ovation.
Redick waved to the crowd as tears welled in his eyes. His wife, Chelsea, wiped tears from her face.
“Just a classy, classy gesture on the part of the Magic,” Redick said. “It’s something I’ll remember the rest of my life, for sure. I’m just very appreciative of that gesture. It’s awesome.”
Bucks rookie power forward John Henson scored 17 points, grabbed a career-high 25 rebounds and blocked a career-high seven shots.
Udrih, another player whom the Bucks shipped to the Magic, scored 13 points and distributed 11 assists.
The Magic had lost their previous two games after they held eight-point leads late in the third quarter.
“It was a tough game,” Harkless said. “They made a run at the end, and we were able to bounce back. That’s something that we weren’t able to do in the past few games. It was great for us to get a win and take that step.”
The Bucks lost two key starters during the first half.
Point guard Brandon Jennings left the game midway through the first quarter because of a sore left Achilles’ tendon. Late in the first quarter, center Larry Sanders fell back-first onto the parquet floor when he went up for a shot and absorbed a hard foul from Andrew Nicholson. Although Sanders played a bit in the second quarter, he sat out the second half with a sore lower back.
For a while, though, it looked like the Magic (20-59) wouldn’t be able to recover against the Bucks (37-41), especially after Harris missed his free throw at the end of regulation.
But at the end of overtime, with Orlando up 111-103, Harris grabbed a rebound, drove the length of the court and dunked, which upset the Bucks and disappointed his coach, Jacque Vaughn.
“Maybe I’m old-fashioned a little bit,” Vaughn said. “But I understand the moment and how hard he played to help us get to that position. It stares you in the face that he played for that team. But, at the same time, I totally believe there’s a respect for the game. But there’s also a youthful excitement about the game also.”
Afterward, asked to describe his motivation, Harris said, “That wasn’t personal at all. I have all the respect for the Milwaukee Bucks: the players on the team, the organization as a whole. As a young player, I haven’t really ever been in a game towards the end except for this year. When I got the rebound, I thought they were trying to foul, and I just pushed it out, and I didn’t see nobody behind me.
“I just decided, ‘I’m wide-open. I’m going to battle until the game is over.’ I just wanted them to know, ‘No way they could come back in this game.’ Needless to say, I probably didn’t look at the score of the game and see that we were up, so I apologize for that. And if anybody thought that was disrespectful, that’s not the type of player that I am. So you live and you learn from it.”
And, on Wednesday, the Magic may have learned something, too: how to close out a firstname.lastname@example.org