And then it got worse.
After back to back losses to a Knicks team that was slumping and had lost eight of 11, the Bulls showed up in Orlando to play a Magic team that had lost six straight and 10 of 12 and was missing three starters. So the Bulls suffered perhaps their worst beating of the season given the competition, a 111-89 loss to the Magic.
The Bulls were outclassed, outplayed, outrun and outhustled from the start in never leading and trailing by double digits almost the entire last three quarters.
Taj Gibson gave the Bulls their only enthusiastic play with 16 points. Jimmy Butler had 12 and Derrick Rose nine and both were beaten repeatedly off the dribble by the Magic guards, Elfrid Payton and Evan Fournier. The result was easy Orlando inside baskets with what little resistance the Bulls offered on defense often out of position. Doug McDermott had 12 off the bench.
The Bulls fell back to 36-36. They are not out of playoff contention with the teams ahead of them not doing well. But the Bulls showed little fight and less force in a passive, seemingly accepting-of-defeat effort for a veteran team. The Magic are 30-43 and won the season series over the Bulls. The Magic had five players in double figures led by Dewayne Dedmon with a career high 18.
It should have been an advantage for the Bulls as the Magic was playing the second of a back to back and this time the Bulls were the healthier team. Orlando regulars Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and Nikola Vucevic were out injured. But with Dedmon reaching his career high in points halfway through the second quarter, the Magic knocked the Bulls back early.
The Bulls defense was poor as Orlando grabbed the aggression from the start, going ahead 10-4. The Bulls were hanging in, trailing 23-20 with just under three minutes left in the first quarter when the Bulls reserves collapsed and the Magic closed the quarter with a 13-2 run for a 36-22 lead after the first quarter. The Magic shot a shocking 72.7 percent in the first quarter as the Bulls almost seemed to step out of the way or Orlando players driving with the Magic getting 20 points in the paint. The Bulls had three first quarter assists on 11 baskets with little passing or teamwork.
It continued early in the second quarter with Aaron Brooks firing up a shot before anyone was in position to get back and the Magic running out for a layup and then a lazy Brooks pass on the next possession leading to another Magic one on nobody score. That led to a series of Bulls one-on-one plays as the Magic went ahead 47-30. The Bulls had a bit of a comeback behind the still spirited inside play of Gibson getting inside position. That got the Bulls back within 49-40 with about five minutes left in the first half. But then it collapsed all around the Bulls. Rose and Butler were fouled and missed two free throws easy, Magic players grabbed loose ball after loose ball between Bulls players, Gibson and Pau Gasol at one point seemingly accusing one another. Orlando went on a 12-2 run for a 61-42 lead with 2:15 left in the first half and led 68-50 at halftime. Dedmon had 16 points and 10 rebounds, his first double/double of the season, by halftime and Payton breezed by Rose for 13 points and eight assists in the half. Orlando shot 62.5 percent. The shorthanded Magic had a 23-17 rebounding advantage and 38 inside points to 28 from the Bulls at half.
The Bulls showed some life to start the second half, pressuring, forcing Orlando turnovers and seemingly climbing back into the game. Mike Dunleavy made a three and Gibson continued to back up his words with the team’s most committed and enthusiastic play. The Bulls pulled within 74-65 with 6:07 in the third quarter after a Gibson put back on a Gasol miss and Butler post up jumper. But the Bulls then gave it all back as Dunleavy, Mirotic and Butler with a lazy dribble getting stripped for a layup all committed turnovers and Orlando regained its 18-point lead at 89-71 after three quarters. The Magic still was shooting 60 percent through three quarters and stretching out their lead on the boards.
And then the Bulls have in as Orlando started the fourth quarter with an 11-0 run, the Bulls young reserves taking one-on-one jump shots and failing to get back and the Magic taking a 100-71 lead three minutes into the fourth quarter, the largest lead the Magic have had on any team all season. Brooks was ejected with two technical with 41.9 seconds left.