The Milwaukee Bucks found their defensive groove against the Orlando Magic, overcoming a slow start to run away with a 123-91 win on the road.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 29 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, while four other Milwaukee players reached double-digit scoring.
The Bucks now move to 3-2 on the season and will fly home for the second game in a back-to-back against the Toronto Raptors at Fiserv Forum.
What did we actually learn from the win over Orlando?
Youthful energy sparks Bucks' defence
Prior to tip-off, Mike Budenholzer hinted that veteran sharpshooter Kyle Korver would have the night off with the marquee matchup in Toronto just 24 hours away.
With that in mind, Sterling Brown and Donte DiVincenzo appeared to be the automatic candidates to slide up in the deep Milwaukee rotation despite only combining to see eight minutes of court time in the season's early going.
With the Bucks surrendering an early double-digit lead to the Magic, it was Sterling Brown whose name was called first at the 5:17 minute mark of the first period. This was quickly followed by DiVincenzo, who checked in with 1:37 left.
Big Ragu.- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) November 1, 2019
Big Hustle. #FearTheDeer pic.twitter.com/tgNo0B419d
The two would remain on the court together until the 8:13 mark of the second quarter. In that 5:19 stretch of play, the Bucks went on a 22-5 run and the game was suddenly busted wide open.
With defensive exuberance and offensive aggression, Brown and DiVincenzo helped changed the course of the night, and in the process allow the Bucks to get back to their expected regular-season dominant ways.
Donte DiVincenzo would finish with 14 points on 4-for-7 shooting from three while posting a team-high +34, while Brown would add nine points, 11 rebounds and a +26 on the box score.
It would be hard to take these two out of the rotation on the back of these performances. Wouldn't it?
Antetokounmpo('s) found his swagger
Coming into the night, Antetokounmpo was averaging 23.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. Those are hardly the numbers of a player out of sorts but it felt that way. Maybe it was frustration with the officials, or maybe it was his struggles at the free-throw line that were at fault, it's hard to say, but a trip to Florida appeared to make those issues evaporate quicksmart.
Antetokounmpo was 8-for-11 in the paint, as he repeatedly asked questions of the Magic defence in transition. It was brute strength, it was finesse, it was the MVP finding his rhythm.
Struggling with his outside shot of late, he would confidently bury a triple with 6:49 left in the game and celebrate almost out of relief, after failing to connect from long range since the season opener in Houston.
It would be his final act on this night, as he made way for his brother, Thanasis, though the fun was just beginning.
With time winding down, the older Antetokounmpo would spin towards the basket before exploding vertically to the rim and throwing down a thunderous jam on Magic defender, Wes Iwundu. The Bucks bench would explode and Giannis could hardly keep a beaming smile from his face.
It would provide Antetokounmpo with his first NBA points as a Milwaukee Bucks in highlight-reel fashion. The Antetokounmpo's found their swagger in Orlando, and this is great news for Milwaukee.
Orlando's offence continues to falter
Mike Budenholzer described Milwaukee's defence as "discouraging" and "concerning" after his squad gave up a 19-point lead on the road to Boston.
Orlando on the other hand, have been struggling to put the ball in the bucket as much as any team in the league.
The Magic entered the night dead last in offensive efficiency (95.0) and true-shooting percentage (48.0), highlighting their struggles on that end.
The script was flipped early, however, as the home team started a scorching 8-for-9 from the floor to open up an early 20-7 lead. The hot start was short-lived, as they could only muster 26-for-82 shooting the rest of the way, as the 13-point lead morphed into a 32-point deficit.
Two of the Magic's premier offensive weapons in Aaron Gordon and Terrance Ross were held to a combined 7-for-25 shooting and the Bucks were consistently able to take the ball off the rim and launch transition attack, where they dominated the fastbreak points 36-2.
Despite holding a respectable 2-3 record, Orlando were held to fewer than 100 points for the fifth straight time to start the season, and in 2019, that is going to be a tough formula for winning basketball.
Mike Budenholzer will board the flight feeling less discouraged than he was a few days ago, but it remains to be seen if a meeting with Orlando was simply covering the cracks.