The Chicago Bulls’ season-long search for answers continues Saturday when they visit the Orlando Magic to wrap up a three-game trip.
The Bulls fell to 22-26 after another baffling performance on Thursday, when they shot 4 of 25 (16 percent) from 3-point range in a 111-96 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.
Chicago, which was outscored 34-17 in the fourth quarter, has lost two straight following a three-game winning streak.
DeMar DeRozan is averaging 26.3 points for the Bulls, who have been unable to build on impressive victories earlier this month over the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.
“It’s tough,” said Chicago center Nikola Vucevic. “We don’t have the luxury of time in front of us. We have to figure it out right away. Hopefully we can, but we haven’t shown it yet. We just have to find it within ourselves. We have the talent. We’ve shown that we can do it, but we’re just not doing it consistently.”
The Bulls will aim for a more complete effort against Orlando, which is playing on short rest after losing 110-105 to the host Miami Heat on Friday.
Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner and Cole Anthony all scored 19 points for the Magic, which is 6-6 this month.
Orlando committed 20 turnovers against Miami, leading to 32 points for the victors.
“When it comes down to it, you’ve got to take care of the basketball,” said Magic coach Jamahl Mosley. “I love our fight. I love the fact that we were in it in a great environment on the road against a tough team, but you’ve got to take care of the basketball.”
Orlando has won nine of its past 12 home games and boasts an impressive young roster led by Banchero, who is averaging 20.3 points on 43.8 percent shooting in 12 games this month. “I’ve never seen anybody come into the league like he’s come into the league, just how locked-in, focused, how mature he is,” said Orlando guard Gary Harris. “I’ve never seen a rookie like him. It’s been fun to share the court with him.”
Orlando is seeking its second straight victory over Chicago after winning 108-107 on Nov. 2. DeRozan had 41 points in the loss and is averaging 32.6 points in his last five games against the Magic. Vucevic, who spent nine seasons in Orlando before joining the Bulls, is averaging 19.6 points and 13 rebounds in 12 games this month.
Chicago is tied for 10th in the Eastern Conference standings and will need to find solutions for its inconsistent play sooner than later.
“We have to find just more desperation,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “We have got to become more desperate, and I think there are times where we are just not desperate enough, and that is what it is going to take.
“It is great to say it or talk about it, but there are things you have to do, and then obviously if you are making shots it can make it a little bit easier. But that is not going to happen all of the time.”