Recap: Bulls blast through Magic in final home game
There was hope that the young Magic squad would come out with some extra enthusiasm for Fan Appreciation Night, but the dream was dashed. The Chicago Bulls imposed their will against Orlando and ran the Magic out of their own building on the team’s final home outing, 102-84.
The Magic came out competitive at the tip and even led by two after the first quarter. It was all downhill from there as Chicago out-muscled, out-hustled and most importantly, out-shot Orlando. The Bulls led by as many as 24 points in the second half and if not for an entire 4th quarter of garbage time scoring, the Magic would have struggled to hit 70.
Tobias Harris led the Magic with 20 points, including the dunk of the night and Maurice Harkless had 16. Nik Vucevic had his 49th double-double of the season finishing with 17 points and 14 rebounds in just 31 minutes of action.
It’s hard to get down on these youngsters who are closing in on their fifth wind and are attempting to not be crushed by their third or fourth rookie wall. Of the nine players who saw action tonight, five are rookies and three are sophomores. Would you like to see more consistent effort on defense and off the ball from Harkless? Yes. Would it be nice if Tobias Harris converted a drive going to his left? Yes. Would you like to not stare down the bench and see Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Hedo Turkoglu and Big Baby sitting in suits? Obviously.
But there does remain hope. Jacque Vaughn knows there is little that can come from these last few games except more tape to draw from to teach these guys where they are missing the mark. Hope comes in the summer. The majority of this team won’t be around in two to three years, but the guys that remain will be the ones who showed they have the capacity to learn and the drive to not be good, but to be great. To survive in the NBA, you must be elite at something. This team is elite at little to nothing, but you can see the sparks.
The Bulls are a playoff team despite missing their superstar for the entire season for a reason. They have a coach and a team who have developed a relentless defensive identity. What will the Orlando Magic identity be going forward?