A miserable fourth quarter prevented the Orlando Magic from defeating of the NBA's best teams.
Solid finishes have kept the Magic's winning streak over the Milwaukee Bucks intact.
Orlando goes for its 13th consecutive home win over the Bucks -- and fourth overall victory in this series in 22 days -- on Saturday night, when Milwaukee looks to rebound from a late-game meltdown of its own.
Playing their first home game since Feb. 17 due to preparations for last Sunday's All-Star game in Orlando, the Magic (23-14) were denied a season high-tying fourth straight victory at the Amway Center on Thursday, losing 105-102 to Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City.
Orlando got outscored 35-21 in the final period, erasing a lead that had been as high as 14 points. The Magic shot 8 of 25 during the fourth, while the Thunder hit 10 of 15 from the field.
"It's both ends," center Dwight Howard said after scoring 33 points and missing an eighth consecutive double-double by one rebound. "We have to be able to execute and get stops. That's the one thing we didn't do (Thursday) in the fourth quarter. But it's a good lesson for us."
The Magic, though, outscored the Bucks 75-52 in the final 12 minutes of their three matchups last month -- two in Milwaukee (14-22) and one at home -- rallying from fourth-quarter deficits to win each time.
"It is very tough (coming back three times)," said Howard, averaging 21.7 points and 16.7 rebounds per game in the season series.
The Magic have won 13 straight over Milwaukee with Howard in the lineup, and haven't dropped a home game in this series since a 111-105 loss Dec. 29, 2004.
Instead of arriving in Orlando for the final time this season following a victory over Atlanta, the Bucks are trying to salvage one win to close out a three-game trip. Milwaukee led by 15 points in the third quarter Friday, but got outscored 34-18 in the fourth en route to its eighth defeat in 10 games, a 99-94 loss to the Hawks.
"We just couldn't make the big play," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles, a former Magic point guard. "And they did. They made the big shots and were able to stop us enough and cause us to miss shots in the fourth quarter."
Still, Skiles and the Bucks had to feel good about the play of point guard Brandon Jennings, who hit five 3-pointers and scored 34 points Friday after missing 9 of 11 shots and finishing with six points in Wednesday's 102-96 loss at Boston.
Jennings hasn't fared well against Orlando in 2011-12, averaging 14.3 points on 30.2 percent shooting.
Bucks forward Drew Gooden, who has 47 points and 18 rebounds through the first two games of the trip, is healthy again after missing the last two meetings between these teams due to a sprained right wrist. He had 21 points and eight rebounds Feb. 11 in Milwaukee's 99-94 loss to the Magic at the Bradley Center.
Orlando has won 18 of 22 over Milwaukee overall.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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