The Milwaukee Bucks felt right at home in Jason Kidd's return to the bench, though a greater challenge on the road awaits.
The resurgent Memphis Grizzlies aim for an 11th win in their last 12 games at FedExForum, where the Bucks seek their first victory in over six years Thursday night.
Kidd had plenty to feel good about in his first game since undergoing hip surgery on Dec. 21, as the Bucks overcame a 16-point first-half deficit to rally for a 107-100 win over Orlando on Tuesday. The head coach missed 17 games while recovering, with assistant Joe Prunty going 8-9 to keep Milwaukee (20-27) in striking distance for a playoff spot.
"I liked the composure of the guys in that first half. We were down and didn't stop playing," Kidd said. "I thought in the third quarter we took control of the game."
The Bucks used a familiar formula to end a two-game skid, outscoring the Magic 62-26 in the paint and receiving big nights from top three scorers Khris Middleton, Greg Monroe and Giannis Antetokounmpo, all of whom had at least 21 points.
Milwaukee's 49.3 points per game in the paint is tied with Sacramento for tops in the NBA, though hitting that mark figures to be difficult against a Grizzlies team that's yielding a league-low 37.9 per game.
Memphis (26-20) also can score in the post, as it showed with 70 paint points in Monday's 108-102 win over Orlando, its fourth straight at home. The Grizzlies have relied heavily on Marc Gasol during a 5-1 overall stretch, with the standout center averaging 22.8 points over the past five.
Jeff Green was the one carrying the offense against the Magic, however, particularly during crunch time. The forward scored a season-high 30 points and had two crucial baskets in the final 14 seconds to force overtime, where the Grizzlies held Orlando to two points on 1-of-10 shooting.
"Basically, all five guys locked in defensively and held our heads on the defensive end and stuck to our coverage," guard Tony Allen said. "We did everything just a little bit harder, and down the stretch we were aggressive on the defensive end."
The Grizzlies also locked down Milwaukee in a 96-83 win at FedExForum on March 14, their eighth in the series' last nine meetings. The Bucks, 3-13 on the road under Kidd this season, have lost four straight in Memphis since a 103-98 victory on Nov. 21, 2009.
Milwaukee's chances of ending that drought likely depend on its success from the perimeter, as the Grizzlies rank near the bottom of the league in 3-pointers allowed. The Bucks have two players shooting over 42 percent in Middleton and Jerryd Bayless, who hit two key 3s in the final 2:20 to help seal Tuesday's win.
"Bayless made big plays down the stretch for us. He's done it all season," Kidd said. "But if it wasn't for our defense getting stops and rebounding and going the other way, we wouldn't be in that position."
The Bucks also have had trouble defending the outside shot, as they've permitted 45 3-pointers over their last three games. Orlando finished 13 of 24 after New Orleans made 17 of 31 attempts to hand Milwaukee a 116-99 loss on Saturday.