The Chicago Bulls have been going through a lot of drama on and off the court lately. Not only was Fred Hoiberg relieved of his head coaching duties over a week ago, but the Chicago Bulls recently suffered their worst loss in franchise history against the Boston Celtics, 133-77.
Having a new head coach didn’t seem to make matters better as there have been reports that he would have players go through a two-and-a-half hour practice, which most of the players are against. The Chicago Bulls would look avoid a third straight loss and a ninth straight road defeat as they battle the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center. The Magic, on the other hand, are trying to get away from a fourth straight loss.
The Chicago Bulls and the Orlando Magic have seen each other a total of 116 times in the past as the Bulls won 64 games while the Magic ended up winning only 52 of those matchups. This game will mark the first of four times that these two ball clubs will meet up during this season. Last season, the Bulls swept the Magic in their regular-season series, 4-0.
-Denzel Valentine (ankle)
-Antonio Blakeney (coach’s decision; 9.5 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 0.5 APG, 42.6 FG%, 44.8 3P%, 65.7 FT%)
-Cristiano Felicio (coach’s decision; 3.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 0.5 APG, 56.3 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 73.7 FT%)
-Cameron Payne (coach’s decision; 6.0 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 2.8 APG, 40.3 FG%, 27.3 3P%, 88.0 FT%)
-Tyler Ulis (G-League; 0.0 PPG, 0.0 RPG, 0.0 APG)
-Chandler Hutchison (illness; 4.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.8 APG, 42.6 FG%, 25.0 3P%, 55.6 FT%)
-Rawle Alkins (G-League)
-Timofey Mozgov (knee)
-Khem Birch (coach’s decision; 2.4 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.2 APG, 58.8 FG%, 100.0 FT%)
-Isaiah Briscoe (coach’s decision; 1.9 PPG, 0.6 RPG, 0.9 APG, 42.1 FG%, 100.0 3P%, 40.0 FT%)
-Wesley Iwundu (coach’s decision; 4.4 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 37.5 FG%, 31.8 3P%, 77.8 FT%)
-Jarell Martin (coach’s decision; 2.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.6 APG, 35.4 FG%, 21.1 3P%, 100.0 FT%)
-Troy Caupain (G-League)
-Amile Jefferson (G-League)
-Melvin Frazier (0.0 PPG, 0.3 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.0 FG%, 0.0 3P%)
Both the Orlando Magic and the Chicago Bulls would put up a good fight in this game as they each shot in the high 40 percents in the first half. Nikola Vucevic scored 13 points for the Magic while hitting a three-pointer late in the second quarter. Former Nuggets player Evan Fournier was kept to just 6 points but was able to get off two assists in the 15 minutes that he played.
D.J. Augustin also had six points but he would collect his from beyond the arc. Aaron Gordon was only able to score three points which came from the charity stripe. He finished the game with a total of 8 points. Terrence Ross played the most minutes off the bench but only scored six points, hitting a trey early in the second quarter.
On the other end of the court, the 2014-2015 All-Rookie selection Zach LaVine got hot for 14 points as he shot 67 percent from the floor. He earned three of those points from behind the arc while recording 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and one steal. Rookie Wendell Carter helped out with six points while Kris Dunn had five points and three rebounds off the bench. Lauri Markkanen ended up with four points, three from distance and one from the free-throw line. Robin Lopez played 15 minutes off the bench as he had five points but it was the home team that went into the locker room with a 51-46 lead.
Both teams continued to fight in the second half but the Bulls showed more accuracy as they completed 52 percent of their shots, holding the Florida team to 35 percent shooting. Justin Holiday, who is averaging 13 points a game this season, lit the floor up with 16 points, drilling 4 three-pointers in the process. LaVine would cool down as he only had nine points and four turnovers.
The Orlando Magic, however, found a way to continue to pull away as Vucevic dropped 13 more points, leading the Magic to a 97 to 91 victory over the Bulls. This victory would bring a halt to the Magic’s three-game skid. Nikola Vucevic finished the game with 26 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and one block while Zach LaVine settled for 23 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.
The Chicago Bulls will travel over to Texas to meet up with DeMar DeRozan (24.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 6.2 APG, 48.0 FG%, 17.1 3P%) and the San Antonio Spurs (14-14) on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. This will be the second and final game between these two teams this season. Last time they saw each other was on November 26 when the San Antonio Spurs snuck away from the Bulls, 108-107. During that game, DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points, pulled down 8 rebounds, and dished off 5 assists while Zach LaVine had 28 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists.
The Orlando Magic will host Donovan Mitchell (20.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, 42.8 FG%, 30.3 3P%) and the Utah Jazz (14-15) on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. This matchup will mark the first of two meetings between these ball clubs during this season. The Magic ended up getting swept in the regular-season series against the Jazz last season, 0-2.