Bulls fall to Orlando, DeRozan drops 41 points
Despite a season-high scoring night from DeRozan, it wasn't enough as the Bulls hope to gain get Zach LaVine back on the floor in OKC on Monday.
Remind Me Later •
Help was the word for the Bulls Sunday when the Bulls lost for the sixth time in their last seven games, 114-95 to the team with the league's worst record, the now 9-39 Orlando Magic. But help at least seems on the way.
Zach looks like he'll be back.
"We get our main player back," DeMar DeRozan graciously said after apparently declaring he's got this one, and then turning around when he called "charge" and discovering that everyone else had missed the bus.
DeRozan had yet another remarkable performance of a season filled with them, a season best 41 points on 15 of 21 shooting, 11 of 13 from the free throw line. And after most of his teammates apparently had stayed out late with a few extra turns on Space Mountain, DeRozan carried a sleepy Bulls start with 20 of the 37 first-half points. The Bulls never really made a serious move after a 51-37 halftime deficit.
That came with 23-6 Orlando the last seven minutes of the second quarter, Wendell Carter especially all over the place with a dunk, a driving hook shot, a three and a pair of blocks. The Magic then kicked their lead up to 71-51 midway through the third quarter with the Bulls without Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and Zach LaVine still in walk-it-up mode with one fast break point for the game.
"That changes the whole dynamic of our team," DeRozan offered optimistically about the injured LaVine apparently ready to return Monday in Oklahoma City. "Having him back and possibility having Javonte (Green) back, the energy defensively and experience and chemistry we have with the guys speaks volumes; to have them back changes everything."
Got any change? Spare some change? Not that the Bulls actually have been like Zombies. But the same energy hasn't been there without injured guards Ball, and now Caruso joining him likely for two months (his wrist surgery is scheduled for Monday) along with LaVine and Green.
"They were the aggressor from start to finish," summed up Bulls coach Billy Donovan. "We got off to a fairly good start as far as the scoreboard (10-2 lead), but I didn't particularly like the way we were playing. We just happened to make a few more shots. They were the aggressor as far as driving the ball, their defense, playing down hill. Their physicality; they blew things up and made it challenging on our backcourt (zero assists in a combined 75 minutes from Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White).
"DeMar had an incredible game and tried to do everything he could to keep us close," Donovan noticed. "There were times we didn't have resistance at the basket. They were physical with us. knocked us off screens."
Yes, the Orlando Magic. And Donovan had it exactly. The rebuilding Magic team led by Moritz Wagner off the bench with 23 points (51-10 Magic bench edge), former Bull Carter with 19, Franz Wagner with 18 and rookie Jalen Suggs with 15 and dunking on pretty much everyone pretty much dominated the Bulls the entire game.
Coby White added a modicum of competitiveness with 22 points, but he missed six of seven threes after missing all nine in Milwaukee Friday. The Bulls are 12 for 59 on threes the last two games. Dosunmu after averaging 18 and eight in those first three starts is averaging five points the last two games in 40 minutes per game with totals of six assists and five turnovers.
The Bulls were outscored 60-34 inside and despite outrebounding Orlando 44-35 with Nikola Vucevic getting 13, the young and athletic Magic made the ball disappear, 22 Bulls turnovers for 24 Orlando points.
The Bulls slipped to 28-17 and a game behind Miami, tied now for third in the Eastern Conference with Milwaukee.
DeRozan did start a bit of a run midway through the third quarter that got the Bulls within 71-64 with about four minutes left in the quarter. It included his steal and breakaway, Moritz Wagner then grabbing DeRozan from behind in what looked like an uh oh, here we go again. There was a bit of pushing, and a clear path foul and free throws for DeRozan.
"Just stupid," DeRozan said. "Obviously, it was going to be clear path. He didn't try to contest it; I just thought it was a stupid foul."
But Orlando was the ones who responded, a quick pair of threes and 85-74 Magic going into the fourth quarter and quickly up to 92-74 with Moritz Wagner blowing past Vucevic for layups and dunks, brother Franz adding his own and later Suggs beating a trap by Dosunmu and Tyler Cook and putting DeRozan on a poster with a powerful slam dunk.
Suggs added a 360-degree dunk and some preening after a steal and Magic two-way player Admiral Schofield despite helping hold DeRozan to 41 was jawing with DeRozan as the Magic broke away. Until the Bulls can do something about it again, they'll have to take it.
"We've got to weather the storm some way," said DeRozan. "We've worked too hard to stress on it. You can't play a perfect game every night. We win together, we lose together; that's my mentality. It sucks with the bad luck we've been hit with not having our key guys; it's been rough. But we still have to go out and compete. Getting some of the calvary back tomorrow is definitely helpful. We'll continue to build off that and catch our rhythm."
And if things haven't been going badly enough, the Bulls got a scare late in the game when Carter slipped driving to the basket and Vucevic tumbled over him, grabbing his left knee as he went down.
Et tu, Vooch?
"Hit my kneecap to the floor. For awhile initial pain, no issues," Vucevic comforted.
At least not physically.
Returning to his beloved Orlando where he spent most of his NBA career before the trade to the Bulls last year, Vucevic had one of his poorer efforts shooting four of 19 with five turnovers and fouling out.
"Obviously, I wanted to come here and do well and help the team win, so that's frustrating, disappointing in the way I approached the game tonight," Vucevic acknowledged. "Shooting is part of the game. I felt I was more disappointed in my focus defensively. Some of the things I've been pretty good at so far this year (but not Sunday), getting back cut, going for pump fakes, not being in the right positions in pick and roll, and things like that. Things I can control. There's still many ways for me to impact the game and I didn't bring the energy and focus tonight needed to help us win the game. I wasn't in it the way I needed to be as far as energy.
"Hopefully get Devonte back, Zach back will be huge for us. Just got to continue to build," said Vucevic. "Other teams have problems as well; it's just part of it. You just have to figure it out."
Unfortunately, they're back to learning experiences.
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