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10 observations: Bulls sputter down stretch of OT loss to Magic

Loss wastes big games from Nikola Vucevic and Ayo Dosunmu

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

ORLANDO, Fla. --- The Chicago Bulls sputtered down the stretch and lost a winnable game, falling 114-108 in overtime to the Orlando Magic.

"We competed, but we didn't execute at the end," Coby White said. "They're a really good team."

Here are 10 observations:

---The Bulls played their second overtime game over their last three and their league-high eighth. They also lead the NBA in clutch minutes, defined as any game within five points and 5 minutes or less. The Bulls dropped to 16-13 in clutch games, having played the fourth-most clutch games. Their offense sputtered down the stretch. They only scored 22 points after the third quarter, losing a six-point lead to open the fourth. Coby White shot 2-for-11 from 3-point range and 5-for-21 overall, ceding to DeMar DeRozan late.

"I'm good," White said. "I just missed shots."

DeRozan missed a 3-pointer at the end of regulation.

"We were trying to get a switch," DeRozan said. "I know (Jonathan) Isaac was on me. I was trying to see if they'd mess up on a switch with Coby. I just came off and lined it up. It felt good. It was on point, back rim. I knew if I tried to get in there, they're long and reach well."

---The Bulls couldn’t contain Franz Wagner or Jonathan Isaac down the stretch. Wagner repeatedly beat them off the dribble or got open from behind the 3-point line, finishing with 36 points. Isaac grabbed six offensive rebounds as the Magic posted 20 second-chance points.

"It's tough," DeRozan said of Isaac, who he was guarding. "He did a great job. Credit to him. He was crashing the hell out of the boards. My positioning was kind of bad. The ball bounced their way a couple times."

There was a feeling in the locker room that this game slipped away.

"They're really long," coach Billy Donovan said. "And I thought we had some decent looks that, quite honestly, in overtime we were running on fumes a little bit with some of the minutes. I felt like we were really tired down the stretch."

DeRozan logged 44. White played 45:29 and Nikola Vucevic 43. Foul trouble to Andre Drummond and Ayo Dosunmu taxed an already-thin rotation that is short Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams.

"We need every game," DeRozan said. "We need to lay it all out there every single game, whether we got a full team or limited guys."

---Vucevic spent more time shaking hands than a presidential candidate. He’s beloved here, making two All-Star games in his 8-1/2 seasons with the Magic. Then, Vucevic put on a show that the fans here are used to seeing. He posted his fifth straight 20-point game for his first time as a Bull, finishing with 26 points, 17 rebounds, four assists and three steals.

---Dosunmu sank a career-high five 3-pointers as part of his 19 points. He also guarded everybody from Jalen Suggs to Franz Wagner and helped push pace to overcome a slow start offensively. About the only thing that cooled Dosunmu off was foul trouble; he sat with four fouls midway through the third quarter.

---The Bulls scored a season-high 31 points off 17 Magic turnovers but dropped to 4-7 in this series since these teams connected on that big March 2021 trade centered on Vucevic and Wendell Carter Jr. and two first-round picks, one of which became Wagner.

"I follow how they're doing, especially some of the guys I played with," Vucevic said. "The trade worked out pretty well for both of us. As soon as he got to Orlando, Wendell kind of took off. Unfortunately, this season he had a hand injury so he's trying to find his rhythm. But he fits really well with the team they have.

"For me, it's been a good situation in Chicago. I went to a team that's trying to win now. I worked out with Wendell once or twice over the summer because we work out with the same guy in Orlando. He's a great guy, a really good player."

---Donovan opted not to start the double big lineup of Vucevic and Drummond despite doing so three of the last four halves and the Magic starting a large front line of Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter Jr. The Magic posted Wagner up against DeMar DeRozan for scores on their first two possessions, prompting Donovan to switch the shorter but more defensive-minded Dosunmu onto Wagner.

---Drummond then checked in at the 6 minute, 44 second mark of the first and actually walked to the scorer’s table 2 minutes earlier before a stoppage came for his substitution. Pregame, Donovan said he may even start using the double-big lineup when it’s not matchup-based given the Bulls’ lack of size and how well it has fared to this point. This time, though, Drummond drew two quick fouls and four before halftime to thwart extensive use of this pairing.

---The Magic sport one of the better benches in the league and utilize a 10-player rotation with a full, solid second set of five in Cole Anthony, Gary Harris, Mo Wagner, Jonathan Isaac and Joe Ingles. That presented a test for the Bulls because, with Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams out, Donovan essentially has been playing seven players heavy minutes and giving spot minutes for Jevon Carter and either Julian Phillips or Dalen Terry. Against the Magic, Donovan opted for both Terry and Phillips but sat Carter for the night. Terry got the nod first and finished with five points in 12 minutes, including a dunk on Jalen Suggs off a loose ball recovery that Phillips created by attacking the offensive glass.

"They're a really long, big team and we wanted to switch some things to try to neutralize some of their actions," Donovan said. "It was a game of matchups where we were trying to play bigger."

---The Bulls got off to a slow start offensively before Dosunmu hit three 3-pointers in the second quarter. When Alex Caruso followed with a 3-pointer on the Bulls’ first possession of the second half, they had their first lead of the night. Caruso later followed with a nasty hesitation move in transition for a driving layup and seven-point lead as part of an 18-3 run that bridged halftime.

---Torrey Craig remains on a minutes limit and logged 21 minutes but hit a huge 3 in the fourth quarter when Donovan utilized a rarely-seen and offensively-challenged lineup of Drummond, White, Phillips, Terry and Craig.

"I'm just trying to get guys rest," Donovan said. "The big lineup would've helped there but we had foul trouble. We were just trying to buy some time."

Wagner sank consecutive 3-pointers against this rarely-seen Bulls lineup, switching onto Drummond and shooting over him in space. Wagner scored 14 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter, repeatedly hitting big shots. He almost outscored the Bulls, who scored 15 in the final period.

"We had a couple breakdowns defensively in coverages when we were up by seven," Donovan said. "Wagner made two quick 3-pointers that cut it to one."

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