The Orlando Magic put forth a good effort against the playoff-bound Chicago Bulls on Monday, but fell short in their final road game of the 2013/14 season by a 108-95 final. The loss means Orlando ends its road schedule with a 4-37 record, the worst in team history.
Bulls swingman Mike Dunleavy led all scorers with 22 points--just two shy of his season-high--including three three-pointers. Chicago's experienced power-position tandem of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer feasted on the Magic, combining for 31 points, 22 rebounds, and 13 assists on 13-of-27 shooting from the floor.
For Orlando, Andrew Nicholson played his second straight solid game, offering hope that the scuffling second-year big man could finish the season strong: he shot 8-of-9 from the floor for 19 points in 21 minutes off the bench. In 22 minutes, Arron Afflalo added an efficient 13 points, and Kyle O`Quinn continued his excellent final quarter of the season by chipping in a season-best 20 points and seven rebounds.
Chicago opened the game on a 17-4 run, setting a tone that suggested the Magic would be in for a long night. But after that poor start, the visitors recovered nicely, tying the score with 51 seconds to play in the first period on a pair of Ronnie Price foul shots, capping a 17-4 run of its own. The Magic shot 47.1 percent from the floor in the period, but committed five costly turnovers compared to the Bulls' none.
The Magic fell further behind in the second as the Bulls, one of the league's worst offensive teams, erupted for 31 points. Orlando couldn't keep its hands to itself defensively, sending Chicago to the foul line for 12 tries, of which shots it converted 10. Tony Snell made his presence felt off the bench by tallying nine points in six minutes, including a key play to end the half: after Moe Harkless deflected a lob intended for Snell, the Bulls swingman recovered the ball and rainbowed in a stepback jumper as the buzzer sounded, giving the Bulls a 57-44 advantage.
In Boozer and Noah, the Bulls boast two excellent interior scorers with reliable mid-range ability and advanced passing instincts. Their willingness to swing the ball when driving lanes didn't avail themselves left the Magic a step slow defensively, accounting for some of Orlando's fouls.
The Magic chipped into Chicago's lead in the third quarter, getting to within three points on two occasions. But Dunleavy responded both times by draining a three-pointer, and a free-throw parade helped the Bulls end the period on a 9-2 run. Orlando had some success in the period by sagging off Noah to a staggering degree, allowing the Florida product to uncork several of his unconventional jumpers, all of which attempts clanked off the iron.
Orlando never challenged for the lead after that run: the Bulls expanded the advantage to as large as 18 points in the final frame, scoring almost at will and from anywhere against a possibly fatigued, but more likely simply overmatched, Magic defense. Chicago shot 57.9 percent from the field in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with a 50.6-percent mark.
The Magic end their season Wednesday with a home date against the Indiana Pacers, who have already clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference.