Lauri Markkanen #24 high fives teammate Kris Dunn #32 of the Chicago Bulls during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 26, 2018 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Chuck's Daily Check In - 01.02.19

Chuck previews tonight's game against the Magic and tells us what's happening around the league

GAME NIGHT FROM THE UNITED CENTER: Orlando (16-20, 6-9 on the road) at Bulls (10-27, 5-13 at home).
TV: WGN: Neil Funk and Stacey King. 7PM tipoff.
RADIO: 670 The Score: Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington and Steve Kashul.

LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: LaVine: 23 ppg. Orlando: Vucevic: 20 ppg.
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Carter Jr. and Markkanen: 7 per. Orlando: Vucevic: 11 per.
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Dunn: 6. Orlando: Augustin: 4.

SEASON SERIES: December 13 at Mexico City: Orlando 97, Bulls 91. Vucevic 15-footer go-ahead hoop with less than 30 seconds left.
December 21 at United Center: Bulls 90, Orlando 80. Markkanen with 32 points.

CCI PREVIEW: The Magic are desperate to make the playoffs. It’s a young ball club but they need to slide into the post season to show the Magic fan base they’re on the right track. Nikola Vucevic is a free agent at the end of the season. He is having an outstanding season worthy of an All-Star nomination. I’m not really sure where this team is going. I like Isaac and Bamba but a small sample size tells me they’ve been outplayed by Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., both players selected after the Magic picks. Augustin is having a solid season (questionable tonight-ankle) but Orlando needs a front line starting point guard, preferably a young, up and coming one. They thought they had that in Elfrid Payton but Orlando ran out of patience, which I totally understand. This is game two of six straight on the road for Orlando. They were trounced Monday in Charlotte by 25 points.

The Bulls get to write a new script in 2019. The offense is still a work in progress. The defense is getting better. I’m not a Doctor but hopefully Bobby Portis will return soon and we can see how Coach Boylen distributes minutes and handles rotations with a full complement of players. The Bulls game notes list Portis out of tonight’s game and Robin Lopez probable with a left hip strain.

As we embark on the final 40-plus games, the Bulls have some very good young assets as they continue to build a foundation for an exciting future.

CCI 24 SECONDS NBA NEWS AND NOTES

Portland 113, Sacramento 108 OT: The Blazers’ Jusuf Nurkic with a spectacular line: 24-23-7-5 steals 5 blocks. Wowza.

Philadelphia 119, Los Angeles Clippers 113: Embiid with his 32nd double-double of 28-19. Jimmy Butler and Avery Bradley were each ejected after a shoving match. Whatever. Kendall Jenner cheered on Ben Simmons.

Toronto 122, Utah 116: Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 45 points. He was simply unstoppable. Up next: Leonard returns to San Antonio Thursday. Pascal Siakam with a career-high 28 points and 10 rebounds. Raps continue to win with Lowry and Valanciunas sidelined.

Denver 115, New York 98: Just another day at the office for Denver’s Nikola Jokic: 19-14-15. The Nuggets have won nine straight home games. New York has lost eight straight.

Milwaukee 121, Detroit 98: The Bucks have won four straight, eight of nine, an NBA best 26-10. Giannis with a filthy dunk on Jon Leuer.

Thanks for reading CCI. Reach out at cswirsky@bulls.com or Twitter: @ctsbulls. Always a pleasure!

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