Bulls fall to Magic
Mike Watters - USA Today Sports

Bulls fall to Magic

by - Senior Writer -

ORLANDO - Although you may not be able to win a game in the first quarter, you certainly can lose, which the Chicago Bulls (37-41) did on Sunday against the Orlando Magic (46-32). When you talk about a team that has had the Bulls number all season, Orlando has to be at the top of your list as they entered Sunday 3-0 against the Bulls and were looking for their first season Sweep of Chicago in over a decade.

For whatever reason, the Bulls haven't been able to solve this team this year, but they have given them a battle, as all three games have been decided by single digits. In fact, during those three losses, the Bulls have only been outscored by 14, which shows you how close most of those games have been. Sunday was vastly different as the Magic jumped on the Bulls early and never looked back, picking up the 113-98 victory to sweep the season series.

This margin of victory was more than the other three wins combined, as the Bulls picked a terrible time to play another terrible game. It may not happen often, but this game was over in the first quarter, as the Bulls came out as flat as they could be. Whether it was their inability to make shots or not being able to play defense, Orlando jumped out to a 31-14 lead after the first quarter and had the Bulls searching for answers.

The rest of the game was about as evenly played as possible, with the Bulls outscoring the Magic by two over those final three quarters. That included a 30-25 second quarter to try and claw back into the game, but by that time, it was too little too late. Had the Bulls been able to play the way they did the final three quarters in the first, the result of this game may have been different, as Chicago can no longer have a winning season with this loss.

Not much went right for the Bulls, but Demar DeRozan took it upon himself to deliver another massive game. Given his age, it's hard to believe that DeRozan leads the NBA in minutes played, but when you look at his production, you can see why. He led all scorers with 30 points. He did his part for the Bulls offensively, but with no one else scoring more than 15 points, the offense was tough to come by.

Ever since returning to the Bulls two weeks ago, Javonte Green has looked like a completely different player, and that continued on Sunday when he scored 15 more points. It's a shame the Bulls never resigned him after last season, but given his play the last few weeks, he may be one of their top priorities this offseason.

Although DeRozan was the only player with more than 15 points, Chicago still had several players finish in double figures with Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White adding 14 points and 11 points. White has to be the concern right now as he is not only in the top four in the NBA in minutes played but has logged a career-high in minutes that will only continue to rise.

However, he hasn't been the same player since suffering a hip injury a month ago, which affected his shot. Chicago will need him to pick things up the last week for the offense to get back on track, or the playoff season will be short-lived.

Andre Drummond rounded out the Bulls' double-digit scorers with 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Considering Nikola Vucevic only had eight points, Drummond was desperately needed as the Bulls weren't themselves on Sunday.

The thing that stands out about Orlando is that they don't have a superstar player, but they have a bunch of good players who know how to play together. That can work in the NBA, and the Magic are proving that as they have had their best season since 2016. If you had to pick a superstar, Paolo Banchero would be as close to that as you can be for the Magic, as he led the Magic with 24 points while adding six boards and five assists.

Like Chicago, Orlando only had one player over 20 points, but several players scored close to 20 points, helping to give Orlando some much-needed balance. Jalen Suggs added 19 points for Orlando while connecting on three triples, with Franz Wagner coming away with 16 points. Wagner has been a Bulls killer all season long, so to see Chicago hold him to 16 was promising, even if nothing else went right for them.

Ever since being traded to Orlando in exchange for Vucevic, Wendell Carter Jr has started to look like the top 10 player the Bulls thought he would be and has played a massive role in the overall success of this team. He didn't have his best game on Sunday with 11 points and eight rebounds, but he did what he needed to do to keep Vucevic off balance.

Orlando also received a massive lift from Markelle Fultz off the bench, as he led all bench scorers with 17 points in the win. Chicago will now get set for their final week of regular season action, as they will take on the New York Knicks again on Tuesday after knocking them off at home last Friday.

Comment on this story
Send Feedback to Dustin Riese: Email | Comment
Post your comments!
Subject (Replies: 0) Author
spacer Bulls fall to Magic