Bulls-Magic Preview

Orlando Magic Status Check:
Record: 12-19
Division: 2-4
Conference: 5-13
Home Record: 7-10
Last 10 Games: 4-6
Streak: Lost 6
Last game: 112-110 overtime loss to Heat
PPG: 93.3 (26th)
Opponents PPG: 96.2 (10th)
Offensive Rating: 101.2 (29th)
Defensive Rating: 104.4 (12th)
Pace: 91.6 (17th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .489 (13th)
Turnover Percentage: .146 (28th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .753 (4th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .255 (21st)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .156 (29th)
Opp. eFG%: .483 (12th)
Opp. TO%: .120 (30th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .185 (6th)
Leading scorer: Arron Afflalo (17.0)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Magic Injury Report:
Gustavo Ayon: doubtful (bruised thigh)
Glen Davis: out (sprained shoulder)
Al Harrington: out (knee)
E’Twaun Moore: doubtful (sprained elbow)
Jameer Nelson: questionable (sore hip)

Overview:
Other than Derrick Rose re-tearing his ACL, the Bulls’ 2012 ended about as badly as it could have: with a loss to the Bobcats. It not only ended Charlotte’s 18-game losing streak, but it was the Bobcats only win in the month of December.

The loss continued a trend of four straight games that the Bulls have looked like a lottery team. It started with two blowout losses to the Hawks and Rockets, continued with an ugly win over the NBA worst Wizards and culminated with the loss to Charlotte.

Luol Deng (20 points, 12 rebounds) and Carlos Boozer (19 points, 14 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles in the losing effort. Joakim Noah, who was apparently battling the flu and sure looked like something was wrong, only shot twice. Jo had no energy, grabbed only four boards and never really got into the game. Nate Robinson was 2-11, so it would probably have been better if he hadn’t gotten into the game. Marco Belinelli went back to his “old bench self,” meaning he was terrible as his role off the bench. He went 3-12 from the field before fouling out.

Nobody played well, the Bulls shot 35.1 percent as a team and once again got out-rebounded for the fourth straight game.The Bulls were without starting point guard Kirk Hinrich (who hasn’t been good this year), but the Bobcats were missing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Byron Mullens.

Luckily for the Bulls, they get another game against a lottery team. Bad news though, the Magic are on an six-game losing streak. The Bulls aren’t good in this kind of situation.

Orlando is coming off of a two-point overtime loss to the Heat. Arron Afflalo scored 29 points, JJ Redick added 23 and Nikola Vucevic cleaned the glass like non-other, grabbing a franchise-record 29 rebounds to go with 20 points. Who needs Dwight Howard, when Vucevic is pulling down 29 boards? The 12-19 Magic need Dwight Howard, that’s who.

As a team Orlando owned the rebounding battle, grabbing 17 more boards overall, and pulling down 18 offensive rebounds to the Heat’s nine.

The Magic rank 29th in offensive efficiency, which means hopefully the Bulls can outscore them. That isn’t a slam dunk though, as Chicago is 25th in offensive efficiency. The Bulls have scored less than 82 points in three of their last four games. The offense is broken, and probably won’t be fixed until Rose comes back.

But the Bulls can win if they slow down the Magic’s shooting guards. JJ Redick is averaging 14.4 points and starter Arron Afflalo is dropping a team-high 17.0 per game. Afflalo is up to 20.4 over his last five games, while Redick is scoring 16.2.

Perhaps this most recent loss will wake the Bulls up. Atlanta and Houston are solid teams so losing to them isn’t the worst thing that can happen. And then they pulled out a win against Washington, which probably didn’t teach the Bulls anything as they still came out with a win. But losing to the Bobcats is a slap in the face. No team wants to be the end of an 18-game losing streak. If this was a kick in the pants for Chicago, at least it will have some value.

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