Four games into the season, the Orlando Magic find themselves saddled to a 0-4 start. The theme of the season with exception to the game versus the New Orleans Pelicans so far has been: start strong in the first half, meltdown in the third quarter, come up short in the fourth.
The night looked promising for Magic as they started the game looking sharp and moving the ball well. Nikola Vucevic got it going early thanks to some smart pick & roll play, and asserting himself against Pau Gasol. Vucevic was able to score eight points on 4-of-7 shooting. Elfrid Payton also had a hand in the Magic’s promising start with his pesky defense and controlling the pace of the game. The Magic would shoot 57.1 percent and lead 28-24 in the opening quarter.
That wouldn’t last in the second, as the Magic became trigger happy. Instead of keeping the foot on the gas and attacking the paint, the team started to settle for long jumpers. For the Bulls, rookie forward Doug McDermott provided a much needed spark off the bench. He often burned his defender, getting an open three-point look, and using his outside shooting threat to put together strong drives to the basket to put up 12 points in the second. He and Jimmy Butler would combine to score 27 points in the half.
The third quarter would be a forgettable one for both teams. Chicago would shoot a dismal 4-of-17 to score 15 points. Orlando also had offensive issues, going 8-of-23 for 17 points, but finally outscored an opponent in a quarter for the first time this season. With the offense missing, the defense would take over as the Bulls played Vucevic very well in the post. Thanks to different defensive looks, the Bulls would cause Vucevic to miss all four of his shot attempts, and commit two turnovers heading into the final quarter.
The Chicago Bulls, without Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, had five players score in double figures. Jimmy Butler led the team with 21 points, nine rebounds. Pau Gasol notched a double-double of 16 points, 13 rebounds.
Tobias Harris led the Magic with 21 points and nine rebounds. Nikola Vucevic posted his fourth consecutive double-double with 19 points, 13 rebounds. Rookie point guard Elfrid Payton flirted with a triple-double, going for nine points, seven assists, and six rebounds. He also became the third player in NBA history to start out his career averaging seven assists per ESPN.
Magic face the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
Featured image courtesy of Chicago Bulls Facebook.