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Bucks beatable: Now, there's proof

The Magic hopes to build on its Game 3 win, its first in 12 over Milwaukee.

By DARRELL FRY

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 1, 2001


ORLANDO -- There is comfort in knowing. At least, that's what the Magic is counting on tonight.

When Orlando stares playoff elimination in the face for the second time tonight in Game 4 of its Eastern Conference playoff series against Milwaukee, the Magic will do so knowing it can indeed beat the Bucks. That's something Orlando had some doubts about as recently as last week when it was riding an 11-game losing streak against Milwaukee.

But the Magic's Game 3 win Saturday night, albeit in overtime, gave the team much-needed confidence it'll take into tonight's game at TD Waterhouse Centre.

"Now that we've beaten them, now we know we can, and I think that's a big lift for us," Magic coach Doc Rivers said of his team, which trails the Bucks 2-1 in the best-of-five series. "I think you'll see a different (Magic) team on Tuesday night."

Orlando's problem always had been handling the Bucks' stable of scorers (Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson, Tim Thomas and Sam Cassell) and keeping the Bucks off the boards.

Orlando gave up 100 points or more in its losses at Milwaukee and a team record for shots allowed in a regulation-length playoff game (97 in Game 1). It was outrebounded in three of its four regular-season games against the Bucks and in all three games of this series.

The Magic also had trouble getting anyone other than star forward Tracy McGrady involved in the offense. He carried the bulk of Orlando's production in the first two games, scoring 33 and 35 points.

But in Orlando's 121-116 overtime win in Game 3, the Magic played the Bucks closer on the boards, getting outrebounded by just 53-48, which limited Milwaukee to seven second-chance points compared with 25 in Game 1.

Orlando also scored more than 100 points during regulation for the first time in the series, thanks in part to 18 points from point guard Darrell Armstrong and some timely three-pointers from Pat Garrity and Dee Brown.

Rivers said he sensed his players had a different attitude about facing the Bucks before the game. There was a swagger about them before and during the game that he hopes carries over to tonight.

"We had bounce coming out of the locker room, and we need that again Tuesday night," Rivers said. "I don't think that's going to be hard to get because we still have to win and our backs are still against the wall."

Milwaukee figures to play a little better than it did in Game 3 when it shot 39.8 percent from the floor. The Bucks are one of the highest scoring teams in the league and the odds that Allen, Cassell and Robinson will shoot 22-of-56 from the floor again are not good.

Robinson, in particular, is due for a breakout game. He is shooting just 34 percent and averaging 14 points, well below his 22-point average from the regular season.

"We've got to find ways to get Dog the ball," Cassell said, referring to Robinson. "It's not what Tracy (McGrady) is doing to him. He's not doing what we know he can do right now."

Regardless of what the Bucks do, the Magic likes its chances as long as it has McGrady on the floor.

Asked after his 42-point effort in Game 3 if he could score any time he wanted against the Bucks, McGrady told reporters: "Of course. Gimme a break, man. You seen anybody stop me yet?"

BROWN SUSPENDED: Magic guard Dee Brown was suspended for today's game game without pay and fined $5,000 by the NBA for leaving the bench during Saturday's victory.

-- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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