Magic try to stop skid at six, visit slumping Bulls


Magic try to stop skid at six, visit slumping Bulls

The Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls meet Wednesday in Chicago with both looking to end losing streaks.

Chicago dropped its third straight on Monday in a 101-90 decision at Memphis, following a 121-117 loss in the first leg of a back-to-back against Minnesota.

The Bulls remain in the No. 10 spot in the Eastern Conference, the last seed to qualify for the NBA Playoffs play-in tournament, just 1.5 games ahead of the Toronto Raptors through Monday’s games.

Chicago is operating with a new-look lineup in recent weeks, having added Daniel Theis from Boston, Troy Brown Jr. from Washington and Nikola Vucevic, who faces his former Orlando teammates in Wednesday’s matchup.

Vucevic is the only starter of the three, but both Theis and Brown are playing significant bench minutes. Theis came off the bench to score 18 points in Monday’s loss. Brown finished with just two points, but grabbed eight rebounds.

Bulls coach Billy Donovan lamented the team’s defense in his postgame press conference Sunday, after Chicago had given up 120 and 121 points in back-to-back defeats. For a defense that allows 113 points per game (ranking 20th in the NBA) the concern is valid.

But Monday’s loss reflected Chicago’s pursuit of more consistency. A 16-point fourth quarter doomed the Bulls to an 0-8 mark on the season when they have scored fewer than 100 points.

“We’re talented enough to win these games; we’re just not going out there getting the results,” Zach LaVine said. “We really tried to compete defensively, and just no shots were falling. It’s just upsetting.”

Chicago shot just 5-of-31 from beyond the 3-point arc at Memphis.

A struggling Orlando side heads into Chicago on a six-game losing streak. After a 120-97 blowout Monday against San Antonio, the Magic are losing by an average of 22.7 points a game during their skid.

Monday’s loss marked the third in the skid in which Orlando failed to score at least 100 points, and pushed the Magic’s points allowed to 123.7 per its last six games.

Like Chicago, the Magic have faced roster turnover with the departure of Vucevic and Aaron Gordon. The latter was traded to Denver.

“Everybody’s just trying to get adjusted, especially us being a very young team. We’ve just got to learn how to win,” said Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. “We’ve got to understand, as a team, defense is what wins games. Including myself, we get too caught up in the offensive side of the ball. Make or miss, take your shots. We can’t allow leak-outs, straight-line drives, nobody helping, giving them easy points.”

But Orlando has also experienced a bevy of injuries. In addition to the loss of Jonathan Isaac before the season and Markelle Fultz after just eight games, the Magic were without Otto Porter (foot) against the Spurs, and Mo Bamba (hip) was forced to leave Monday’s game in the first quarter.

Allowing high-percentage opportunities has been vexing for Orlando, which is giving up 54 percent shooting on two-point field-goal attempts this season. The Bulls rank in the NBA’s top-third, connecting on 54.7 percent of shots inside the 3-point arc.

–Field Level Media

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