Costly Late Turnovers Contribute to Magic Loss in Chicago
Trailing by just one point with under a minute to play, the youthful Orlando Magic replayed a familiar script that has been seen throughout the season. With the score 87-86 Chicago, the Magic had multiple chances to take a late lead, including the final possession of the game. Chance #1: Nik Vucevic turnover with 46 seconds remaining. Chance #2: Beno Udrih turnover with 10 seconds left. Final Result: another close loss without the execution of a final play.
It was an injury ravaged game from the get-go. Chicago has still yet to see Derrick Rose return, but were also without Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Rip Hamilton. Orlando was once again without Jameer Nelson (ankle) and just eight minutes into the game, lost stud rookie Maurice Harkless for the remainder of the night due to a sore left ankle. Harkless’ injury is not thought to be serious and was held out in the second half as a precaution.
The remaining eight for the Magic played with their typical up and down focus. One second filling you with promises of hope and the next reminding you that they are just a half game from the worst record in the league for a reason.
The ups were fun though. Beno Udrih went into full on ‘Melo mode in the 3rd quarter scoring 17 points before finishing with 27 points. Unfortunately that would be the end of his scoring onslaught. Nate Robinson took over the Beno fire in the 4th quarter for Chicago, scoring 12 in the final period and finish with 19. Luol Deng also had 19 for the Bulls.
As it has been for most of the season, the downs outweighed the ups. The inability to execute consistently in pressure situations has probably cost this team at least five victories with at least ten wins within the realm of possibility. Inefficient offense is to be expected with a young team, but the long two point jumpers and silly turnovers can be maddening at times.
With that being said, they fought. Despite a poor shooting night for Tobias Harris (5-17), who continues to struggle to finish his drives, he never stopped attacking or playing hard. He finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Nik Vucevic may not be the enforcer on defense that the team needs, but despite a few momentary defensive lapses he still was a key contributor on the night with 16 points, 15 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
It was just the fifth game of the season where Vucevic had a double-double with at least two steals and two blocks.
While it was nice to see the team competing at the end, and as frustrating as consecutive turnovers at the close of the game can be, it’s not a terrible result. Take solace in the fact that your young Magic team is competing against playoff teams and know that they are one more ping-pong ball towards securing the top overall pick.