The high-powered Orlando Magic offense had a tough time getting in rhythm its last time out. It shouldn’t have as much trouble scoring points in the finale of a three-game road trip.
The Southeast Division-leading Magic look to get their offense back on track and avoid dropping consecutive games for the first time since the opening week of the season on Wednesday when they visit the Chicago Bulls, one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA.
Orlando (24-7) has emerged as one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference, but its offense was punchless in Monday’s 88-82 loss to Detroit, snapping a season-high seven-game winning streak. The Magic have won 24 of 29 games since starting the season 0-2 - the only time they’ve lost back-to-back games in 2008-09.
Orlando was averaging 103.9 points on 47.4 percent shooting from the floor during its winning streak, but was held to a season low in points on 31-of-77 shooting (40.3) Monday. Two-time All-Star center Dwight Howard was limited to one point in the first half, but finished with 18 points and 18 rebounds.
“We didn’t play well at all - we played their style of ball,” said Rashard Lewis, who led Orlando with 23 points. “They slowed it down and made us play half-court basketball.”
The Magic’s offense should be able to bounce back against the Bulls (14-17), who are allowing 102.6 points per game. Orlando is 16-1 when scoring 100 or more points.
In these teams’ first meeting of the season on Nov. 3, Orlando won 96-93 behind Howard’s 22 points, 15 boards and five blocked shots.
The Magic have averaged 105.8 points in winning five straight games over the Bulls, and have also won the last four meetings in Chicago since an 85-76 loss on Nov. 29, 2005.
The Bulls have been tough to beat at the United Center, though, winning five straight to improve to 10-3 there this season. They will play six of their next seven games at home.
Chicago wrapped up a four-game trip Monday with a 100-87 win over New Jersey to snap a three-game losing streak. It was the Bulls’ first victory in New Jersey since 2001, ending a 13-game skid.
“We’ve been struggling on the road all season and we really needed to get a win,” guard Ben Gordon said.
Gordon finished with a team-high 24 points against the Nets after scoring 33 in Saturday’s 129-117 loss to Atlanta, but it has been Derrick Rose that’s been leading the Bulls lately.
The No. 1 overall pick in June’s draft continues to improve. He finished with 21 points and a career-high 13 assists Monday after having a career-best 27 points and seven assists on Saturday.
“I was just taking what the defense was giving me, right when they would step up a teammate would be open so I was just making the open passes,” Rose said after Monday’s victory.
Rose played his fourth career game against the Magic in November and finished with 14 points, four rebounds, one assist and three turnovers.