You could say fatigue may have played a factor for the Orlando Magic.
Or maybe the Chicago Bulls wanted it more.
But whatever the reason was, Magic (40-23) head coach Stan Van Gundy didn’t need to search far for an answer.
Simply put, Orlando was outhustled.
Just one day after completing a historical comeback against the Miami Heat on the road, the Magic failed to find their footing against the Chicago Bulls (42-18), losing 89-81 at Amway Center Friday night.
The trouble for Orlando came in its inability to gain possession of the ball. While they grabbed 30 boards, the Bulls outdid them with 50.
Magic Dwight Howard led the team with a quiet 20 points and included shooting a perfect 8-for-8 from the field, but he stressed that they need to play better defense.
“What it really comes down to is executing down the stretch on both ends, being able to get stops and on the offensive end, like I told the guys you don’t have to rush your shots,” Howard said after the game.
For most of the contest, the Magic offense shot in the 44 percent range, while their defense held the Bulls to shooting 41 percent in the game.
What did hurt was a second period in which the Bulls outscored them 28-14.
Bulls’ Joakim Noah gave helped create opportunities for Chicago by grabbing three offensive rebounds in the second. In all, seven offensive rebounds helped lead the way to 22 points in the paint and nine second chance points in the quarter.
Even after playing in back-to-back games, Van Gundy refused to use that as an excuse for why the Magic lost.
“You play back-to-backs a lot in this league,” said Van Gundy. “We didn’t get the job done, we got outworked on the glass.”
A positive for the Magic offense came from Brandon Bass. Bass scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half, including eight in the second quarter. All game-long, he was consistent with his shot, shooting 6-of-9 from the floor.
Still, Bass was not alone in contributing offensively. Jason Richardson and Jameer Nelson too shot in double figures with 16 for Richardson and 14 for Nelson.
A question mark recently has been the performance of Hedo Turkoglu.
It seemed like his woes continued, making just one of his five attempts in the game. Even with his struggles, Van Gundy said he hadn’t thought about taking Turkoglu out of the starting rotation.
One major problem Orlando will deal with is the upcoming suspension Howard. Howard, who had been sitting on 15 technical fouls, captured his 16th late in the second quarter.
Unless the decision is rescinded, Howard will more than likely sit out of Monday’s game versus Portland.
A tough point from this loss is that the Magic’s statistics were not far off from those of Chicago.
Much of the trouble for Orlando has been the lack of consistent play throughout a full game as well as why this team tends turn on the heat only in the final quarter.
The Magic will need to figure it as they hit the west coast on a road trip this week after the Trailblazers game Monday.
This week however, was a success after also beating the New York Knicks on Tuesday.
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