Kim Klement/USA TODAY
After three overtimes, exhaustion was the proper response. Disappointment though was reserved for one team. The team that came tantalizingly close to victory.
Sure exhaustion existed over in the Bulls locker room. They could at least smile about, with jokes of making cakes for Jimmy Butler who played a franchise-high 60 minutes, the 63 minutes of basketball which just passed. In the Magic locker room?
"I was more mad than exhausted," Victor Oladipo said.
A now nine-game losing streak continues to keep the Magic frustrated. This one was frustrating in a different way. This loss, a 128-125 triple overtime defeat to the Bulls at Amway Center on Wednesday night, was a sign of how tantalizingly close a win could be and how good this team can play. Despite their poor form recently Magic are favourites to defeat their next opponents, the Charlotte Bobcats, with bookmakers https://www.bwin.com.
And yet, it was not enough. What could be?
Shooting 51 percent against one of the league's top defenses was not enough. A career high 35 points — 33 in regulation — from rookie Victor Oladipo was not enough. A season-high 31 points and 10 assists from Jameer Nelson was not enough.
Not even a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left in the second overtime from Glen Davis of all people was enough this time around.
The Bulls had an answer for every play in overtime. Execution still mattered and teh Magic could not get the stops or the makes to hold off the Bulls or make the comeback to win the game.
Davis, for example, hustled and played one of his best games of the season. He scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds. His 3-pointer at the end of the second overtime was a surprise, but a necessary one.
But his 3-pointer attempt on the Magic's final possession of the third overtime with the team down by one point was more than a bad decision. It was a game-deciding one. Davis' 7-for-18 shooting performance showed both everything that is bad with Davis to go with everything that can be good. He seemed to will the Magic into the third overtime.
"We keep saying there are no moral victories," Jameer Nelson said. "We put together a great stretch in the game in terms of effort and competing for every minute that was throughout the game. We just fell a little short."
Until the overtime zaniness took over, the Magic were able to get almost whatever they wanted offensively against the Bulls defense.
Nelson and Oladipo in particular attacked the paint and simply scored and scored and scored. Oladipo scored his 35 points on 15-for-24 shooting (66.7 percent true shooting percentage). Tobias Harris added 22 points and 16 rebounds as he began to hold his own against the Bulls big front court.
Orlando had 21 fast break points and 60 points in the paint. This did not seem like the typical performance from the Bulls and their defense.
The Magic defense matched in helping the Magic build a 15-point lead. The Bulls hit on 42.5 percent of their shots. But they started making shots when it mattered and found a way. Joakim Noah — 26 points and 19 rebounds — made the offensive rebounds to earn him easy points and work the Bulls back into the game. D.J. Augustin hit big shots and so too did Tony Snell.
Orlando began to slow down as the offensive issues this team has faced reared their heads. Nelson and Oladipo began settling for the jumper instead of getting to the basket. And the Bulls actually woke up some on defense.
It was a great game and a great finish. But also a game the Magic let slipped through their fingers just a bit. There are no moral victories, but Orlando made some kind of step forward. That win feels close and this losing streak should come to an end with overall efforts like Wednesday's.
"We talked about validation and winning and losing," Jacque Vaughn said. "You feel for the guys, you want them to get a victory underneath them, but we got better tonight. The last time we were in a situation going down the stretch, we didn't come out as victors and tonight."