|5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)02:0020:00 ET7:00 PM CTNaN:� , December 21, 2018
United Center, Chicago, Illinois Attendance: 20,436
Magic's favorable stretch starts in Chicago.
Orlando Magic at Chicago Bulls
- The Magic had lost five straight matchups with the Bulls before winning the first one this season, 97-91 on December 13. However, Orlando does still have a five-game losing streak in Chicago, averaging a mere 87.4 points compared to the Bulls' 108.6.
- Orlando let the Spurs shoot 64.9 percent in a 129-90 home loss Wednesday, the highest field-goal percentage ever by a Magic opponent. Their average opponent field-goal percentage of 47.6 at home this season is third-worst in the NBA and on pace to be second-worst in team history (48.7 in 1989-90).
- Chicago has failed to score 100 points in six consecutive games, the second-longest streak in the NBA this season behind Memphis' current seven-game stretch. The Bulls haven't gone more than six straight games without scoring 100 since the 2013-14 season (seven games).
- Nikola Vucevic should return after missing one game for the birth of his son. He's coming off his 20th double-double, a total he's reached in all seven seasons he's spent with the Magic. In that span, his 243 double-doubles are seventh-most in the NBA and second-most in team history (Dwight Howard - 457).
- Lauri Markkanen failed to score in double figures Wednesday for the third time in six games. That happened just eight times in his first 71 NBA games.
- Bobby Portis is expected to miss the next two to four weeks because of a sprained ankle suffered Wednesday. Since the 2016-17 All-Star break -- around when Portis became a regular part of the Bulls' rotation -- the team is 7-25 (.219) when he doesn't play.
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CHICAGO -- As favorable as the upcoming stretch of games appears for the Orlando Magic, coach Steve Clifford understands that nothing can be taken for granted.
The Magic will play only one game on the road in their next five games, with that road test coming Friday against the struggling Chicago Bulls at the United Center. But although the Magic are entering a stretch in which the majority of their opponents - including the Bulls -- are playing sub-.500 basketball, Orlando (14-16) will be looking to bounce back from a 39-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs that Clifford admits he didn't see coming after his team picked up a pair of victories in Mexico City.
Now, the Magic hope to rebound without getting ahead of themselves against competition that Orlando has found success against this season.
"With our team, we're crazy if we look past anybody," Clifford said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "We're not understanding the league."
The Magic beat the Bulls in Mexico City recently in a 97-91 victory. Although the Bulls (7-25) are again without a pair of injured starters in guard Zach LaVine (ankle) and Bobby Portis (ankle), Clifford isn't selling anyone -- including Chicago -- short.
"We don't get to buy five games where we pay the team $100,000 so we can go 5-0," Clifford said. "It just doesn't work that way in this league.
"And if we look past anybody, then we don't understand who we are nor what we have to do. There will be no game this year where we're just going to line up and win unless we play well. None. And yet I also want to say that we can beat any team. We can beat any team."
The Bulls have lost both LaVine and Portis this week due to their respective ankle injuries, which will keep them out of Chicago's lineup for the next 2-4 weeks. Chicago will carry the NBA's worst record into Friday's game and will be looking to bounce back from a loss on Wednesday to the Brooklyn Nets.
Chicago has lost two straight games and eight of its last 10 games while being hampered by injuries that also includes guard Cameron Payne, who did not practice on Thursday. The Bulls have also played significant time without Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn, both of whom were out of the lineup in the stretch that led to Fred Hoiberg's recent firing.
But coach Jim Boylen knows he can't make excuses, although his team's inability to stay healthy doesn't help Chicago's chances of being competitive on a nightly basis. The Bulls have also been playing without Jabari Parker, a player the Bulls are attempting to trade, according to reports by multiple media outlets. But Parker -- who is averaging 15.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game -- has been out with a stomach bug and may see time now that Portis is injured. Parker was recently pulled out of Boylen's rotation.
The Bulls will continue to do the best with what they have.
"What breaks my heart is guys getting hurt," Boylen said on Thursday, according to the Chicago Tribune. "It's tough on them. It's their career, their life. Injuries are difficult. The personal part of it really bothers me. Obviously, we have a team concern. And it hurts the development of the team when anybody is out, whether they're in the rotation or not. Because we're all trying to get better, we're all trying to work, we're all trying to support the team."
Updated December 20, 2018