By John Denton
April 15, 2013

ORLANDO – Dreaming about what figures to be a bright future for the Orlando Magic’s host of talented young players, Tobias Harris said on Monday morning that he fully expects the squad to contend for a playoff berth a year from now.

On Monday night, the Magic got to see firsthand the amount of improvement needed to close the gulf between themselves and an actual playoff team – in this case, the veteran-laden Chicago Bulls.

Orlando raced to an early lead, but hit the skids in the second quarter when the Bulls ramped up an intensity forged from playing in so many big playoff games through the years. From there, Chicago was never really threatened as it pulled away in the second half for a 102-84 defeat of Orlando in the Magic’s final home game of the season.

``Their intensity was just at a different level than ours and it shows us how much better that we have to get and how much harder we have to play,’’ said Magic rookie Maurice Harkless, who had 16 points and five rebounds. ``We’re a young team, and we have to learn how tough it is playing against these playoff teams. Hopefully in the future, we’ll be a playoff team, too.’’

Orlando’s loss, combined with Charlotte’s 106-95 defeat of New York, moved the Magic (20-61) into a tie for the NBA’s worst record with the Bobcats (20-61). That is significant because of the impact it could have on the Magic’s chances of attaining the first overall pick in the June NBA Draft.

If Orlando and Charlotte finished tied, the lottery chances are split between the teams in terms of combining the odds for both teams. Then, a ping-pong ball drawing is used to determine which team gets one extra chance if it’s an odd number of chances following the combining of odds to be halved. A coin flip would occur if, after the odds were combined and halved, one team would have one more chance than the other. At that point, a drawing would occur to see who got the one extra chance.

Unable to get much traction from last week’s thrilling overtime defeat of the Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando lost its second straight game at home. Both Boston and Chicago used the games against the Magic as playoff tune-ups, something that Harris said the team should use as a learning tool for the future.

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