Bulls fall short to Magic

Bulls drop to 26-13 on the season

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By Sam Smith | 1.12.2015 | 9:29 p.m. CT

The Bulls Monday lost at home to yet another losing team in a 121-114 defeat against the Orlando Magic.

The Magic, who had lost six straight and went to 14-27, were led by Nikola Vucevic and Victor Oladipo with 33 points each. The Bulls were led by Pau Gasol with 28 points and 14 rebounds and Derrick Rose with 18 points and seven assists.

The loss was the Bulls fourth in their last eight games with the Washington Wizards in the United Center Wednesday.

Trailing by 17 points late in the third quarter, the Bulls rallied midway through the fourth quarter with a spurt from Nikola Mirotic and Rose to get within 106-100. But Vucevic and Oladipo running a high screen/roll constantly flummoxed the Bulls defense.

It was yet another slow start at home to a team with a losing record and among the lowest scoring in the league, 28th at fewer. than 94 per game. Heading into Monday’s game, the Bulls had lost at home to sub-.500 teams Utah, Boston, Indiana, Brooklyn and Utah. The pattern continued to start as the Magic relentlessly pushed the ball at the Bulls, scoring inside and holding the poor shooting Bulls to 38 percent in the first quarter as Orlando went ahead 29-21 with Vucevic doing a nice job against Gasol inside with a dozen points. The Magic continued to pour it on against the Bulls’ casual defense to open the second quarter, taking a 47-32 lead as Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau called a timeout 11 seconds after the Bulls came out of a timeout. More importantly was going back sooner to the starters, who hit the Magic with seven straight points behind Rose and got within 54-51 on a Tony Snell three with 1:56 in the half. But Orlando answered with a Victor Oladipo three to stretch out again and take 63-55 halftime lead on almost 61 percent shooting. After a slow start, Gasol came on to finish the half with 12 points and seven assists. The Bulls started Kirk Hinrich in the second half for Tony Snell with Mike Dunleavy out for defense. The Bulls again drew within three at 73-70 on a strong Rose drive with a crossover and scoop for a layup. But the Magic remained the aggressor, stealing away defensive rebounds from the Bulls and going on a 12-2 run. Vucevic applied the exclamation with a driving dunk over Gasol to give the Magic a 93-78 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Observations:

1. Derrick Rose, who missed the Milwaukee game Saturday with knee soreness, returned with a strong effort attacking the rim and among the only Bulls shooting well early in the game.

2. The Bulls defense turned in another soft defensive performance, especially early as the Magic shot more than 60 percent throughout the first half with ample lane penetration as the Bulls weren’t challenging shots aggressively again. Orlando shot 59.3 percent for the game.

3. Jimmy Butler’s shooting woes continued as he was nine of 34 the last three games before Monday and shot five of 13 against Orlando.