The Chicago Bulls have been one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference this season, but coach Scott Skiles still feels they need to cut down on mistakes.
The Bulls try to get back on track after a tough loss when they open a three-game homestand against the slumping Orlando Magic on Monday.
Chicago (32-26) is in fifth place in the East, but almost came away unscathed in a three-game stretch against the top teams in the conference over the past four days.
After beat Cleveland on Thursday and Southeast Division-leading Washington on Friday, the Bulls allowed Central Division and conference-leading Detroit to come from behind to defeat them 95-93 on Sunday.
The Bulls had a 16-point lead midway through the third quarter against the Pistons, but were unable to hang on. Three of their last four defeats have been by two points or fewer, and they are just 2-7 in games that close this season.
“To cough the game in the third quarter and to have some of the plays we did, there is no excuse,” Skiles said. “We can’t just say that we have young players anymore. We are past that.
“At some point, we have to develop some poise because it’s costing us too many games and it cost us today. We went through a six-minute stretch that we looked panicked.”
Chicago tries to regain its composure at the United Center, where it is 22-7 - the best home record in the East.
The Magic (27-30), meanwhile, have lost six straight road contests heading into their four-game trip against teams in playoff position. Orlando visits Denver on Wednesday, San Antonio on Friday and wraps up the trip Saturday at league-leading Dallas.
“Our focus should be accepting the challenge of playing great teams like we are going to face now on the road and it’s up to us,” said Orlando guard Carlos Arroyo, whose team is tied with New Jersey for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. “Nobody is going to give us anything, we have to go out there and get it. We are going to see how tough this team really is and what we’re all about.”
The Magic suffered their fourth straight loss overall and 16th in 21 games Sunday, falling 97-93 to Houston in a game where they made just 5 of 20 fourth-quarter field-goal attempts.
Dwight Howard had 18 points and 16 rebounds in the defeat. The 6-11 Howard is averaging 24.8 points, 12.9 rebounds and shooting 70.6 percent in his last eight games, but Orlando is just 2-6 over that span.
The Magic and Bulls haven’t met since Orlando’s season-opening 109-94 victory at home on Nov. 1, when Howard had 27 points and 11 rebounds. Chicago has won six of its last eight over the Magic, though, including three of the last four meetings at the United Center.