And so continued the descent as the Bulls Wednesday had no magic in Orlando and lost 102-89 to the Magic.
The Bulls now are at .500 for the season at 30-30. It was the Bulls fourth consecutive loss and ninth in the last 12 as the Bulls fell out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls play Houston Saturday in the United Center with a chance Jimmy Butler could return from injury.
The Bulls were led by Derrick Rose with 16 points, all in the first half. Pau Gasol had 12 points. The Magic, 27-33, were led by Nikola Vucevic with 24 points, Mario Hezonja with 21 points and Aaron Gordon with 13 points and 15 rebounds. The Magic shot just 40.2 percent after the shooting onslaught against the Bulls in Miami. But Orlando had a 59-48 advantage in rebounding.
It was no Taj Gibson to start as he went to the injured list with Butler, Nikola Mirotic and Joakim Noah. Cameron Bairstow started for Gibson. But Rose looked good with a fast start, a pair of drives and two nice midrange jumpers as well as finding Gasol for a pair of jump shots. But it wasn’t enough to hold off the Magic’s hot shooting to start as Orlando took a 19-7 lead about five minutes in. Gasol finally began to find the range after four early misses and Doug McDermott added what is becoming a regular dunk on a slick baseline pass from E’Twaun Moore. Though the Bulls trailed 33-23 after one quarter as rookie Mario Hezonja had 10 points.
The Bulls with a McDermott three opened the second quarter to 33-28, but the offensive boards proved illusive for the Bulls again as the Magic had three-point play opportunities on the same possession by the Bulls failing to rebound free throws. That helped the Magic score eight straight for a 41-28 lead before Rose came back in and made a pair of pullup jumpers to bring the Bulls within 43-34 midway through the second quarter. Orlando came out of a timeout with six straight points which the Bulls answered with Mike Dunleavy and Justin Holiday threes. But again the rebounding hurt the Bulls and Orlando held onto a 60-50 lead at halftime. Orlando’s shot 46 percent whole Rose had 16 points on seven of nine shooting.
It was an unsteady start to the second half as Bulls coach tried Bobby Portis over Bairstow to start. But Orlando began making long jump shots again with the starters. The Bulls tried some trapping and double teaming tactics, but Orlando moved the ball smartly and took a 73-54 lead just over four minutes into the second half. The Bulls couldn’t find their shooting eyes with some open looks and went into the fourth quarter trailing 84-67. The Bulls fell behind 95-74 when Aaron Brooks was ejected with 6:31 left with his second technical foul for a dispute with the officials.