Bulls lose in embarrassing fashion to Magic, but ‘cavalry’ on the way

Bulls lose in embarrassing fashion to Magic, but ‘cavalry’ on the way

The Bulls continued dealing with playing short-handed, but that was no excuse for the lethargic performance against Orlando in Sunday’s loss. The good news? Zach LaVine and Javonte Green were en route to Oklahoma City and could play Monday against the Thunder.

The Bulls looked like a team screaming for help on Sunday.

And help they’re getting.

At about the same time that the Bulls were allowing a nine-win Orlando team to run a lay-up line through their defense and then trash talk them along the way, All-Star guard Zach LaVine and the “yard dawg’’ himself, Javonte Green, were en route to Oklahoma City to meet the team for Monday’s game against the Thunder.

Much needed bodies, especially after watching the Bulls (28-17) fall to Orlando 114-95, and do so in embarrassing fashion.

Ten total assists compared to 31 for the Magic? Gift-wrap the home team 24 points off 22 turnovers? Get outscored 60-34 in the paint?

That’s not what a conference-leading team does, short-handed or not. That’s also why the Bulls were no longer atop the conference, sitting at third thanks to Miami’s win.

But one game after losing defensive specialist Alex Caruso (right wrist fracture) for six-to-eight weeks in the wake of the Grayson Allen Flagrant 2 foul, LaVine (knee) and Green (groin) were expected to return.

“Getting some of the cavalry back [Monday],’’ veteran forward DeMar DeRozan said. “It’s definitely helpful. Try and build off that and catch our rhythm.

“[LaVine] is our main player. We get our main player back that changes the whole dynamic of our team. Just having him back, possibly having Javonte back, the energy he brings defensively and the experience he has out there on the court and the chemistry we have, with those guys it speaks volumes and the idea to have them back definitely changes everything.’’

It had better.

From tip-off to final buzzer, the Bulls looked lethargic and beaten. Whether it was the loaded number of games they have been playing in this stretch or the emotional toll of now knowing that Allen only received a one-game suspension from the league, Billy Donovan wasn’t hearing any of that.

“They were the aggressor from start to finish,’’ the coach said. “I can sit there and talk about who is not playing, but for the guys that are playing how well can we manage the things that we can take care of?’’

The Magic set the tone in that first half. The eye test showed that, and the box score agreed.

Not only did the Bulls hit the halftime locker room down 16 points, but watched the bench get outscored 31-0, turned the ball over 13 times for 16 points, and went 1-for-9 (11.1%) from three-point range.

A perfect storm of bad.

Enough so that tempers flared.

With five minutes left in the third, Moe Wagner grabbed DeRozan on a breakaway steal, and the veteran obviously took exception to it. There was a bit of shoving before cooler heads prevailed, but Wagner was hit with the clear-path foul, while each player was given a technical

“To me it was just stupid,’’ DeRozan said of the foul by Wagner.

Considering what happened to Caruso on Friday, no wonder DeRozan was a bit touchy about fouls deemed a bit excessive.

It seemed to spark the Bulls, as a 20-point deficit was cut to seven.

Turnovers and poor defense reared its ugly head again, however, as the Magic came right back with an 8-0 run of their own to bounce the lead back up to 15. A lead they never looked back on, wasting the 41-point performance by DeRozan.

“We’re not coming out aggressive,’’ DeRozan said. “Teams are coming out and getting into us. We have to play with a sense of urgency out of the gate.’’

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