When it rains, it pours. The Chicago Bulls have lost four games in a row and six of their last seven outings leaving them reeling after a relatively strong start to the new campaign. It was refreshing to see after their skid from the back end of last season.
But those cracks shown as the Bulls won just eight games after the All-Star break last season have shown again.
They were prevalent as they fell behind the Orlando Magic by 19 points before losing 108-107.
They had a chance to put it away but Nikola Vucevic missed a pair of free throws that would have put them up by four points before second-year Magic guard Jalen Suggs hit the game-winning three. After the game, third-year Magic guard Cole Anthony took to social media to let the Bulls have it with his team getting their first road win of the season.
Bulls Gets Burned
Anthony, son of former New York Knicks guard and 90s Bulls pest Greg Anthony, did not even participate in the contest, sitting out with an oblique injury. But the two players in the image he shared combined for 41 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds.
Big man Wendell Carter Jr., whom the Bulls drafted seventh overall in 2018, was traded to the Magic for Vucevic in a deal that has been panned almost since it went down ahead of the 2020 trade deadline. He has said he is still hurt by the trade and has made no secret of how badly he wants to beat the Bulls when he plays them.
In six games against the Bulls, Carter averages 21.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. He is plus-27 in that span helping the Magic earn a split of the last six meetings since his arrival.
He was not the only piece of the Bulls’ past that hurt them in this one.
Forward Franz Wagner had 20 of the duo’s points, eight of their rebounds, and three of their assists despite battling foul trouble. He was able to come back in with under eight minutes to go and tally his final five points and dish out an assist…on a lob to Carter.
Orlando drafted the second-year man with the eighth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, a pick that belonged to the Bulls but went out in the Vucevic trade.
Making matters worse, the Bulls still owe another pick to the Magic this year.
Setting Up For a Pivot
The Bulls’ recent struggles have the rumor mill swirling in many directions around them. Some are wondering if there is a move they can make to bolster a lineup short on defense and shooting while others wonder if they’ll admit the futility of this core in a strong Eastern Conference.
If it is the latter, then there could be enough incentive for the Bulls to call it a day on this group and gear up for a run in the other direction.
It does not have to be a Victor Wembenyama-or-bust tank, either.
The Bulls get to keep this year’s first-rounder if it falls in the top four in the lottery. With a 6-10 record, they are three wins and four losses ahead of the NBA’s worst 3-14 Detroit Pistons. But they are also only two wins better than the Los Angeles Lakers for that fourth slot.
To secure their spot, though, the Bulls will have to finish among the bottom-three records as those teams can fall no further than fourth when the ping-pong balls settle.