The teams with the two worst records in the league meet when Chicago and Orlando play the first of two contests against each other in the last two weeks of the regular season.
The team with the worst record gets the most balls in the hopper for the May 26th lottery and has the best chance to earn the No. 1 selection. The Magic are an NBA-worst 19-56, while the Bulls are right above them with a 20-54 mark.
Orlando has to be the favorite to finish with the worst record after putting NBA scoring leader Tracy McGrady on the injured list Wednesday. Bothered by left knee tendinitis, he will miss the final seven games of the season.
“It just isn’t getting any better,” said McGrady, averaging 28 points. “The organization doesn’t want to me to rush it, and I don’t want to rush it. I just don’t want to put pressure on myself to try and come back too soon. We’re just being cautious.”
Both teams come into this contest on lengthy losing streaks.
Orlando has stopped playing defense lately, surrendering 74 point-blank shots in its last three games. On Sunday, the Mavs had 26 layups and dunks for a season high-tying 64 points in the paint. Dallas also shot 67 percent (28-for-42) over the first two quarters, Orlando’s season-worst for a half.
“In the first quarter we competed, but beyond that I thought the game got away from us,” Orlando coach Johnny Davis said. “We never responded to try to make a game of it, but it’s difficult when you’re not scoring and they’re laying the ball up.”
Chicago led Miami 86-85 with just under five minutes to play on Monday, but the Heat went on a 20-10 run down the stretch to send the Bulls to their 30th road defeat of the season.
“We played harder tonight than we have the past few nights, but we faded a little bit mentally and Miami took advantage of that,” said Bulls rookie point guard Kirk Hinrich, who scored a team-high 20 points.
The Bulls have won both meetings with the Magic this season after losing 16 of the previous 18 in the series. The teams conclude their season series on April 12 in Chicago.