Tag Archives: Orlando Magic

Note-A-Bulls: Magic come back in the second half to hand the Bulls their third straight defeat

After a fourteen-point loss to the Detroit Pistons on Monday, the Bulls traveled to Orlando to take on the struggling Magic, who had lost three out of their last five games. Dwyane Wade remained out with a thigh injury. Judging their performances against teams with losing records this season, you could assume the Bulls were in for a fight. For Orlando, starting center Nikola Vucevic sat out with soreness in his Achilles. Bismack Biyombo started in his place.

Robin Lopez and Biyombo faced each other at center in an empty Amway Center, with Lopez winning the tip. With no Vucevic, the Bulls certainly had an opportunity to capitalize on the boards. Orlando went with a small lineup, which allowed the Bulls to get many offensive rebounds.

The beginning of the first quarter started out normal. Both teams were trading baskets and were trying to establish momentum. However, it was easy to tell that these are two teams that are not among the NBA’s elite. Orlando began the game shooting 30 percent from the floor, while the Bulls were at 45 percent. With under six minutes to play in the first, the Bulls led 11-10 with Jimmy Butler leading the team in scoring, and four of the five starters registering points. Orlando was doing a good job “breaking out” and getting good shots, but they were not putting the ball in the hoop. Biyombo started out the game 0-5, with essentially three wide open short-distance jump shots. The Bulls took advantage of Orlando’s mistakes offensively, as they jumped out on a 6-0 run to end the quarter. At the end of the quarter, they led 22-19.

The bench squad for both sides stepped onto the floor to begin the second quarter. Orlando threw out the likes of D.J. Augustin, former Bull C.J. Watson, and Jeff Green. The Bulls had their usual secondary group on the floor, with the likes of Christiano Felicio, Rajon Rondo, and Denzel Valentine. However, it was newcomer Joffrey Lauvergne that got things going for the Bulls. Lauvergne had seven points in six minutes of play, helping push the Bulls’ lead to six at the 9:30 mark. Surprisingly, the Bulls kept this momentum going, and after a Cameron Payne three, they extended their lead to ten with just over seven minutes to play in the half. However, we’ve come to know these Bulls don’t disappoint. Immediately after they went on an 8-0 run, Orlando cut the lead back to six at the 6:30 mark. Fred Hoiberg took a timeout at that time, and it proved to be a good use of one. While we can’t necessarily decide what stops momentum, this certainly helped the Bulls. They pushed their lead back to nine at the 3:00 mark, hoping to make it larger heading into the half. The Bulls (somewhat) extended their lead at the half, mainly due to their unselfish play. At halftime, the Bulls had fifteen assists and were shooting 50 percent from the floor. They led 53-43 at the half after Jimmy Butler hit a step-back buzzer beater. Butler led the Bulls in scoring with thirteen points and registered six assists as well.

The third quarter started out well for the Bulls. Their strong offense continued, as they jumped out to a thirteen-point lead three minutes into the quarter. The score was 62-49. It seemed like the Bulls were going to blow this game wide open. They were doing enough defensively, and they were sharing the basketball well on the offensive end. However, after Jimmy Butler found Robin Lopez for a short jumper that gave the Bulls their thirteen-point lead, Orlando found life. The Bulls sharing of the basketball stopped. If you have watched the Bulls this season, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.  The belief that Jimmy Butler must do everything goes into the minds of all the Bulls’ players, and everything that was going well stops. The Magic went on a 9-0 run in the middle part of the quarter, giving them new life. This run allowed Orlando to just get in striking distance, and they eventually tied the game at 77 after Evan Fournier made a three off a Jeff Green assist. The Magic outscored the Bulls 34-24 in the quarter.

The Bulls and the Magic started out the fourth slowly. In the first five minutes, the Magic shot three out of 10 from the floor, and the Bulls had not made a shot in the quarter at that point. All their points (four) came from the free through line.  The Bulls offensive struggles continued throughout the quarter. With under four minutes to play in the game, the Bulls had nine points in the quarter. Against a team that is at best, an average defensive side, you can’t be putting up nine points in eight minutes of play. Frustrations continued for the Bulls, as the Magic capitalized on poor shots and lazy defense from the Bulls. The entire second half was just a summary of the Bulls’ season. You get spurts of hope and good play, and then it all comes spiraling down for unexplained reasons. The final score, in case you couldn’t tell from the tone of this piece, went in favor of the Magic (98-91).

As I watched more and more of this game, I had a clear idea of what was going to happen. I don’t know why the Bulls get in this phase, but it seems that they can’t consistently play good basketball for 48 minutes. It makes no sense to ditch the unselfish method if it is working. How do you go from having 15 assists in the first half to just nine in the second half?  This game was no different than any other Bulls game this year. It gave you all kinds of emotions, and eventually just left you frustrated.

The Bulls are back at it Friday night at the United Center to take on James Harden and the Houston Rockets.

Note-A-Bulls: Magic do the trick as three game skid is snapped

Well the Jekyll and Hyde Bulls are back at it with a dominating 112-80 win over the Magic (3-4) at the United Center, improving to 4-3 on the young season. What looked to be a shootout early only materialized for one side as the Magic scored 22 points in the first 6 minutes of the contest, only to score 58 in the final 42 minutes of the game. When McBuckets plays more than 60% of the starting lineup, you know it was a good game for the home squad. This Bulls team has flashed some brilliant play over the first seven games, but need to do it on a more consistent basis to be taken seriously as a contender this year.

  • I would give my meaningless MVP of the game to Taj Gibson. Jimmy Butler may have had better numbers, which I’ll get into later, but Taj brought the much-needed energy from the tip to ensure the losing streak stopped at three. Gibson ended the night with 16 points on 7/13 shooting including 11 boards and three assists. Gibson also didn’t commit a single turnover on the night which is big because he can sometimes be a blackhole on offense in the post and just put his head down with no regard for his surroundings. But not on this night as Gibson played well on both ends of the floor clogging up the paint and finishing the night with a resounding +/- of +25.
  • Jimmy can not be forgotten in this recap. There may be three alpha’s on this team, but Butler was the head honcho tonight, as the Marquette product finished the night with a stat-stuffing line of 20 points, seven assists, five boards, and four steals. Butler did a great job of getting to the rim early and forcing the issue when the offense was stagnant at times. Butler didn’t even shoot the ball well (5/13) but was still able to find a way to make an impact on the offensive side of things which will be important to continue going forward.
  • A big shoutout goes to the Bulls second unit as well. This group played significant minutes in the third and fourth quarters Despite the outcome already being decided, this group hustled and grinded every minute they were out there to swell the lead even more-so. Special recognition goes to Isaiah Canaan (10 points, four rebounds), Doug McDermott (11 points, four rebounds), and Bobby Portis (nine points, six rebounds) who carried the bulk of the load for the bench. This trio also combined to shoot 11/18 (61 percent) from the field on the night finding open shots and put back opportunities all game long.
  • The one question I have from this game is “why?” Why can’t the Bulls always play like this? In the first quarter it seemed like Deja Vu with the lackluster defensive effort and piss-poor transition D as Orlando raced out to 22 points in the first half of a quarter. But after that, the Bulls buckled down and closed down on shooters better while the Magic finally started missing some shots. Overall, it seems to come down to effort, as the skill is there when the time calls for it. Here’s to hoping they can string that type of effort together for weeks at a time as opposed to quarters at a time.
  • The takeaways for the Magic in this game are mostly negative apart from one, Aaron Gordon. The dude is a stud and could easily be a breakout star this year. He has vastly improved his shot since being in The Association, and his athletic freak rating is still at an all-time high. He just needs to study the game a bit more and figure out some spacing issues and when is best to post up as opposed to hanging around the perimeter and this guy will be a perennial double-double machine.
  • Up Next: The Bulls travel to Atlanta to take on Dwight Howard and the Hawks on Wednesday night. 

2016 Mock Draft

The Philadelphia 76ers finally won the NBA lottery, yielding them the number one pick in an exciting draft. As such, our resident lottery/draft expert Jeff Berest is back with his series of mock drafts. Enjoy!

1. Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons, PF, LSU

Yes! ‘The Process’ worked – hooray! It took three long painstaking seasons but the Sixers finally won the lottery, more importantly winning the opportunity to draft [potential superstar] Ben Simmons.

Now, many people may believe there should be a true debate as to if the Sixers should go Simmons or Brandon Ingram, but there should be absolutely no discussion of the sort. The name the Sixers submit to the commissioner on June 23rd will read “Simmons, Ben”, and I am certain of this. Forget the Sixers drafting for need and selecting a shooter like Brandon Ingram, that is literally the only thing he does better than Simmons. Bryan Colangelo (aka not Sam Hinkie) will take Simmons and have his glut of frontcourt players and figure the rest out later. We haven’t seen a type of skillset like Simmons’ to come out of the draft since LeBron James. LEBRON JAMES! That right there should settle any internal debate you may have about the pick. A player who is 6’10″ and who can handle the ball and facilitate the offense like Simmons, on top of being able to create for himself and finish beautifully at the rim is just too good to pass up.

Before the season Simmons was the de facto #1 pick, but because of an ugly campaign with LSU, this debate with Ingram was created. I don’t care about his perceived immaturity or lack of competitive spirit. The kid made a terrible decision to go to LSU and was surrounded by truly amateur talent, yet he still dominated and averaged almost 20 and 10. Simmons is the building block the Sixers have been searching for over the past three years, and if Joel Embiid can get back on the court that’ll make two building blocks and this Sixers rebuild will be officially over. I’m also sure Brandon Ingram will be a very good player in this league, but in my mind, Simmons undoubtedly has not only a higher ceiling, but a better chance of becoming the next elite NBA player.

2. Los Angeles Lakers – Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke

Lucky for the Lakers they didn’t embarrassingly have to cede their 1st round pick to the Sixers on national television after a season in which they won only 17 games. The Lakers were also fortunate that they weren’t jumped by the Celtics or any other team, because that would’ve taken them out of the Brandon Ingram sweepstakes. The 2016 NBA Draft is the most top heavy class I can remember in recent years. After Simmons and Ingram there is a very VERY steep drop off in talent, so landing in the top 2 was a major coup for the Lakers – Thanks, Byron Scott!

Ingram is an elite scorer, who stands at a lean 6’10″ and has deep range. He is a matchup nightmare on the wing and possesses the length to be a bothersome defender. He typically gets a comparison to Durant because of that thin frame and ability to shoot from deep, but he has a long way to go before he becomes KD. That isn’t to say he doesn’t have the potential to become “KD-lite”. Ideally, you’d like to see Ingram handle the ball better, and it will be interesting to see in the NBA if he chooses to just be mostly a jump shooter or if he rounds out his game and relies on his ability to get to basket as well.

The Lakers would now have a formidable group of young talent to build from in Ingram, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle.

3. Boston Celtics – Dragan Bender, PF, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Danny Ainge will probably be looking to deal this pick but if he cannot do so, I think he will be forced to take Bender. Outside of Bender his options are all guards, like Jamal Murray, Kris Dunn, and Buddy Hield. But where will the minutes be for say, Murray, who would have to play in a rotation with Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, and Evan Turner. Bender is somewhat of an unknown but I believe there’s a consensus that he may have the highest ceiling and potential of any player outside of Simmons and Ingram. It might take a few years to unlock that potential but that may be worth it for the Celts. Jamal Murray isn’t pushing Boston over the precipice and launching them into the Conference Finals anytime soon. The Celtics have the time to nurture Bender and maybe get lucky with him. It also helps that that down the line they also have more unprotected Brooklyn picks to play with.

Bender isn’t going to be a replicant of Kristaps Porzingis and have immediate success (most likely). But he is awfully talented on the offensive side of the ball and the Celtics need to add to their frontcourt that is dependent on guys like Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger. Ainge would definitely like to move this pick and add NBA talent that can help now (maybe a Jahlil Okafor swap??), but Bender is an interesting gamble worth taking.

4. Phoenix Suns – Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky

The Suns could really use another wing player or big to pair with Alex Len, but they’re in this 2nd tier which is very guard heavy. If the Suns still want to configure their roster around three combo guards well they are truly in luck, because Jamal Murray is there for the picking. To me, Murray is the best available at this point – and one thing this could do for Phoenix is make Eric Bledsoe or Brandon Knight expendable. Which would be good if they could shed one of those big contracts and then work with a backcourt that included Murray.

If you take and Murray and combine that with assets from a Knight/Bledsoe trade that’s probably not a bad haul for the 4th pick. The Suns also have some flexibility because they have the 13th pick, so drafting for need isn’t the way to go here. I wouldn’t be shocked if a guy like Denzel Valentine vaulted up the board here and the Suns nabbed him, but it’d be hard to pass on a shooter like Murray who can also handle the ball like a PG. If the Suns can maneuver their current roster a bit, Murray makes more sense. But even if they don’t they’re adding a quality talent regardless.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves – Kris Dunn, PG, Providence

I think Ricky Rubio is a fine player, regardless of his shortcomings offensively. But as a really big fan of Kris Dunn, he could be the one to vault this Minnesota team. Rubio is a great facilitator and a good perimeter defender, but that’s about it. He isn’t very athletic and outside of his passing ability nothing really wows you. Kris Dunn is relentless at attacking the rim and watching him it’s easy to see glimpses of a player like John Wall or Derrick Rose. His jumpshot isn’t great either and he isn’t the passer Rubio is, but his wow factor at times is off the charts. If I’m Minnesota, I would really have to measure what my allegiance to Rubio is going forward. He’s got a decently high cap number and a history of injuries, and there are many who believe that he has simply peaked and this is the best version of him we’re going to see.

Now I’m not saying Dunn is going to be the caliber of player John Wall is, but he has a slight chance to be that. So if I’m Minnesota I take him here, instead of going with maybe a safer pick in Buddy Hield. They have Wiggins, LaVine, and Muhammad who can fill it up, I’m not sure Hield makes them that much better. I’d take a flyer on Dunn, and see if you can move Rubio. I can’t see Dunn’s floor being worse than what Rubio already brings you, but his upside is way higher.

6. New Orleans Pelicans – Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma

I personally have a hard time saying that Buddy Hield actually has the potential to be a great player in the NBA. Outside of his incredible range, which should translate, I have doubts about his ability to beat NBA defenders off the dribble and create for himself like he did at Oklahoma. He can definitely be a solid piece, but don’t expect what he did at Oklahoma to carry over to the NBA. There’s probably not much that separates him from Murray except for that Buddy is already 22 years old.

The Pelicans #1 priority is to get back into the playoffs and put as much talent around Anthony Davis as possible. So I doubt the Pellies would get frisky and take a Jaylen Brown or Skal Labissiere here and see if they can develop. Buddy is probably the player most likely at this point in the draft to help them right away. Eric Gordon has moved on and a backcourt of a (healthy-ish) Jrue Holiday and Buddy Hield is not a bad duo, and gives NOLA another good scoring option. Buddy probably won’t be a good defender at the NBA level, but neither is anyone else on this Pelicans team, so he should fit right in. I wouldn’t be surprised if Valentine were to go here either.

7. Denver Nuggets – Denzel Valentine, SF, Michigan State

If you look at the Nuggets roster it really has a lot more overall talent than some of the other teams that finished in the bottom 10 this year. They have some pieces to build around like Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Jokic, not to mention guys who’ve been there like Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried. The Nuggets haven’t been relevant in the Western Conference in quite some time and they really don’t have any immediate needs to fill; they simply should take the best player available who will be able to help them right, and that’s Denzel Valentine.

Valentine may not have the elite athleticism a player like Jaylen Brown may have, but his instincts and basketball IQ are off the charts. At 6’8″ he has the ability to handle the ball and create for himself and his teammates. He’s never going to be a guy who averages 20 PPG or does anything extremely well, but he is a necessary glue guy who can do a lot of everything and his leadership skills have been praised by all scouts and coaches. Normally you don’t take this type of player in the top 10, but because of the weak depth in this year’s class there’s no way you could fault the Nuggets for taking Denzel.

8. Sacramento Kings – Jaylen Brown, SG, California

The Kings are…well…the Kings. Last year they completely mishandled the draft and reached for Willie Cauley-Stein, who isn’t awful but doesn’t really fit with DeMarcus Cousins. I’m having a hard time seeing them take a guy like Labissiere or Jakob Poetl here as well. Henry Ellenson is a better fit with DeMarcus Cousins – and this is just a gut feeling, but I can’t see the Kings taking Ellenson. Jaylen Brown could potentially be much higher on some teams draft boards because of his elite athleticism and his potential to maybe turn into a star if he develops a jumpshot and starts to round out his game.

Outside of Rudy Gay, the Kings are generally weak on the wings and if they feel like Dave Joerger can work with Brown and turn him into a player it’s very much worth the risk at #8. Ellenson is more ready to contribute next year, but his ceiling isn’t necessarily as high as Jaylen Brown’s. And considering the future picks owed to Chicago and Philadelphia, the Kings might be better off swinging for the fences.

9. Toronto Raptors – Skal Labissiere, PF, Kentucky

Toronto is still reaping the benefits of the Andrea Bargnani trade and are picking in the top 10 even though they are currently in the Eastern Conference Finals. Before the season started a lot of experts had Skal Labissiere as the #2 prospect overall next to Ben Simmons. He proved at Kentucky that he is much further away from being a finished product than initially thought. Although, recently at the combine and individual workouts he has been lauded for his shooting touch and two-way game. Skal can be an asset on defense as a rim-protector but has the athleticism and range to also play PF and in the NBA.

This tends to happen in many professional sports drafts where guys like Labissiere who are originally thought of as top prospects might slide during the year because of average performances. Then, in the evaluation process, the stock begins to rise again after his talent level reemerges when you’re comparing to others. Of course he won’t be going #2, but during his struggles at Kentucky some even though he could go late 1st round. But now that scouts and NBA teams can see his potential he will surely begin to push back up draft boards.

Toronto could really use a forward to pair with Jonas Valanciunas in the frontcourt and although Ellenson is a more polished product, Toronto is the type of team to usually take the pick with more potential. It will undoubtedly take at least a year for Skal to develop and figure out the NBA game, but his upside as a two-way player is undeniable.

10. Milwaukee Bucks – Henry Ellenson, PF, Marquette

The Bucks may not have an immediate need for a PF like Henry Ellenson, but it just works out too perfectly that the boy from Wisconsin who also went to Marquette gets taken by the Bucks. The Bucks could really use a PG after the MCW experiment failed, but maybe Giannis really is their PG of the future, who knows? I think Jakob Poetl is probably the pick the Bucks should make because they are dying for a true center and rim protector. But Ellenson would be very hard to pass up.

The Bucks defense is an Achilles heel and Ellenson certainly won’t fix that. But he’s just another versatile player that the Bucks can integrate into their rotation. He has ability to shoot from range and has a polished post game. The Bucks may have a hard time finding minutes for Greg Monroe, Jabari Parker, John Henson and others, so some corresponding moves could possibly be made, and that’s where the Bucks could add another PG or center.

11. Orlando Magic – Jakob Poetl, C, Utah

The Orlando Magic have done an admirable job gathering some quality talent and assets over the past few years, but one thing that it hasn’t translated into is playoff appearances. And plainly, that is because they get their teeth kicked-in every night on the defensive side of the ball. Nikola Vucevic, although a terrific scorer, is a sieve on defense. Aaron Gordon is their only real quality defender.

Jakob Poetl may not be a position of need because you’ll have to find a way to work him and Vucevic together, but they’ve gone as far as they can with Nik as a rim protector and anchor of the defense. Poetl is a great defender and is actually a nice post player with good touch. The Magic could possibly take a wing player or maybe a PG to push Elfrid Payton, but by nabbing Poetl Orlando can finally stop being an embarrassment on defense night after night.

12. Utah Jazz – Wade Baldwin IV, PG, Vanderbilt

The Jazz are another lottery team that has a lot of talent and can definitely make a push to the playoffs next season, although many expected them to contend this season. Dante Exum was out for the season so there are still question marks on whether he is a productive NBA player. Rodney Hood turned out to be a gem in the late 1st round, and combines with Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert to form a great core. Whether Exum is the PG of the future or not, Wade Baldwin is an interesting fit here. Last year the Jazz took Trey Lyles, so I don’t think they take another big man here and crowd the frontcourt more. Baldwin is a great shooter and is built in the mold of a George Hill type, as maybe not a conventional PG but a combo guard who can still facilitate the offense when needed.

Between Baldwin and Exum (either way) you have your starting PG, as well as a combo guard off the bench who you can play small with as well. It’ll be up to the Jazz to develop Baldwin, but he’s not a bad pick here at the 12 spot. Baldwin is also extremely long for his size and should be able to defend not only the PG position well, but SGs also.

13. Phoenix Suns – Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington

After taking Jamal Murray at 4, the Suns now go a little bold and take a shot on Marquese Chriss, a late bloomer who really caught everybody’s eye at Washington this season. He has the makings of a prototypical NBA stretch-4 and that is something the Suns should be interested in. He has the ability to shoot out to the three point line, has a solid post game, and is a very good athlete with bounce who can defend the paint as well. Chriss is still very raw, but with good coaching and some patience could develop into a very solid contributor for Phoenix.

14. Chicago Bulls – Timothy Luwawu, SF, France

The Bulls are dying for another wing player to pair with Jimmy Butler and Luwawu might be that guy. Luwawu has a perfect skillset for an NBA wing and can play both the 2 and 3 at 6’7″. One of his knocks was his three point shooting, but in France this year he raised his % to almost 40. He has the basketball instincts and IQ that should allow him to play in the NBA right away. He is also an above average passer for his position and his defense is one of his best attributes which should translate. He needs to improve his handle and make sure his shooting this season was not an anomaly, but at 14 this is the range where the risk is worth it for the Bulls.

15. Denver Nuggets – Deyonta Davis, PF, Michigan State

16. Boston Celtics – Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor

17. Memphis Grizzlies – Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey

18. Detroit Pistons – Domantas Sabonis, PF, Gonzaga

19. Denver Nuggets – Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame

20. Indiana Pacers – Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky

21. Atlanta Hawks – Malachi Richardson, SG, Syracuse

22. Charlotte Hornets – Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State

23. Boston Celtics – Cheick Diallo, PF, Kansas

24. Philadelphia 76ers – Dejounte Murray, PG, Washington

25. Los Angeles Clippers – DeAndre Bembry, SF, St. Josephs

26. Philadelphia 76ers – Patrick McCaw, SG, UNLV

27. Toronto Raptors – Malcolm Brogdon, SG, Virginia

28. Phoenix Suns – Ante Zizic, C, Croatia

29. San Antonio Spurs – Isala Cordinier, SG, France

30. Golden State Warriors – Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt

BULLet Points: Magic beat the crap out of Bulls

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse after losing back to back blow out games against the dreadful New York Knicks… it did. The Bulls dropped their third straight, falling 111-89 to the Orlando Magic. They’re now firmly on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, a full two games behind Detroit at 36-36. Their odds of making the playoffs are getting longer; even so, might it be better to miss the playoffs at this point?

  • The Bulls defense is atrocious. Giving up 111 to this Magic team is unacceptable. This isn’t even as much a function of scheme as it is effort. The Bulls aren’t communicating on switches, aren’t getting in defensive stances, aren’t challenging threes effectively, aren’t rotating, aren’t stepping up, aren’t handling defense in transition. Simple things. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch. Early on in the season, they could get away with lackadaisical effort because they could rely on outscoring opponents; lately, they haven’t been able to do that, not by a long shot. The Bulls have let up 100 or more points in 25 out of the last 27 games and have gone 10-17 in that stretch.
  • The “Big Three” of Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol, and Derrick Rose combined for just 28 points and 3/8 from the line, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists against an ailing Magic team that isn’t playing for anything at this point, as they are well out of the playoff picture. The guys the Bulls are supposed to be relying on to be solid were -23 on the game. Oh, and by the way, the Magic were playing without Nikola Vucevic and Victor Oladipo.
  • Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott continue to have good showings. Taj posted 16 points on 8/9 shooting in 26 minutes; Dougie with 12 points on 5/10 shooting and 2/2 from long range in 21 minutes. The Bulls were so out of this one that Fred Hoiberg decided to give Tony Snell six minutes at the end of the game, down 24, something he hasn’t done in quite some time.
  • You can point fingers at a lot of guys, including the front office, head coach, medical staff, and the players. There’s certainly no silver bullet, but one thing is for certain – this is a veteran group of guys who are showing a distinct lack of leadership. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how bad the organization might be run, this is a players’ league and the players have to have some pride, accountability, and respect for one another. It’s quite clear that these Bulls are not playing for each other, and everybody loses.
  • The Bulls are dangerously close to falling below .500 for the first time all season. They’ve hovered there three other times, but managed to pull out a victory. Against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night, the Bulls are a favorite… to be below .500 for the first… time… all seas- have I made my point yet? Yeah, it’s not good.
  • Coming up: the Bulls go to Atlanta on Monday night.

BULLet Points: Bulls drop an absolute stinker in Orlando

They say “if you don’t have anything nice to say, it’s better to say nothing at all.” But when you are obligated to recap a Bulls game, it can be a tough rule to abide by

  • The defensive effort was embarrassing from the opening tip. The Bulls surrendered 33 first quarter points, digging themselves a hole they never came close to emerging from.
  • Orlando’s fast start was literally a fast start. The Magic scored six fast break points in the opening quarter and routinely beat the Bulls down the court the entire game. The Magic finished the game with 19 fast break points and scored several more in semi transition.
  • Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol were the biggest culprits when it came to the transition defense. On one first quarter possession, Rose switched on to Victor Oladipo in transition and simply stopped tracking him once he got below the free throw line. Rose committed a similar mistake again the third quarter, failing to find his matchup in transition and surrendering an open three.

  • Rose’s lapses on defense were bad, but nowhere near as bad as the stink-bomb Pau Gasol dropped. Pau is old and is being asked to carry a huge load on offense. But this play in particular really made me angry

Orlando scores an easy layup off a live-ball turnover, but Gasol’s effort is laughable. At the time of the turnover, Pau is out around the top of the three point arc and ahead of the oncoming Magic fast break. But the big Spaniard is in no hurry to protect the rim and is nowhere near in position to prevent the basket.

  • The Bulls sluggishness could be chalked up to playing the second night of a road back-to-back. But that excuse doesn’t fly against a team that also played the day before. The Bulls arguably had a schedule advantage over the Orlando. They only had to travel from nearby Miami; the Magic flew in from Dallas.
  • Continuing a trend that has been consistent the last several years, the Bulls who didn’t play made just as big of an impact on the game as the ones who did. Chicago was without Jimmy Butler,  Joakim Noah, Nikola Mirotic and Taj Gibson, who sustained a hamstring injury Tuesday in Miami. Remember in January when it seemed like the Bulls needed to make a trade to unclog the big man logjam? Good times.
  • With Taj out, Fred Hoiberg inexplicably chose to start Cameron Bairstow alongside Pau Gasol. Bairstow, who averages 6.7 fouls per 36 minutes, lasted only five minutes in the first quarter before picking up his second foul. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done; Bairstow was a net -12 in the quarter. He did not re-enter the game until only five minutes remained and the score was far out of reach. He miraculously avoided picking up a third foul.
  • Hoiberg used the lack of serviceable big men as an opportunity to experiment with lineup combinations. The five man group that saw the most minutes in this game was Aaron Brooks, Tony Snell, Justin Holiday, Doug McDermott and Bobby Portis. The Bulls were -1 in the 11 minutes these guys shared the court, an encouraging net rating considering how all other combinations worked out. With an acute awareness of the lack of size on the floor, all five players worked hard together to play defense and rebound. The added space on the floor didn’t do much to help the offense, but this concept is something I hope Hoiberg continues to revisit.
  • Derrick Rose had a nice first half, scoring 16 points on 7/9 shooting. He also dished four assists and grabbed three rebounds in the first two quarters. The hot start sadly did not carry over the rest of the game, as Rose finished with just the 16 points.
  • Mario Hezonja scored a career high 21 points, shooting 9/17 from the field and 3/7 from three. The Croation rookie is not afraid to let it fly, and if he starts knocking down threes with some consistency he could develop into the floor spacing wing the Magic desperately need.
  • Coming up: the Bulls host the Rockets on Saturday, when Jimmy Butler may return to the court.