ORLANDO—Jimmy Butler sat with a towel draped around his face, as Pau Gasol muttered something unintelligible as the Bulls came out of a timeout.
Derrick Rose sat with a cold stare, alongside Taj Gibson, whose facial expressions drifted from anger to fury to resignation by the time 40 minutes had passed.
It didn’t take that long for the principle characters to see it wasn’t their night, hasn’t been their week, month or quarter.
The Orlando Magic was merely the latest team to feast on a Bulls team that looks like a dead carcass, a squad that can’t wait to get to April 14, when it’s time to clean out their lockers.
Beaten down, beaten up, fragile and frail, the Bulls look to have nothing left to give this season, as they fell behind by as much as 29 to a Magic team that came in losers of six in a row but left victors in a 111-89 drubbing Saturday night at Amway Center.
It left the question for Fred Hoiberg to answer afterwards, as he had to respond to the notion if his team has quit.
“I sure hope not,” the exasperated Bulls coach said. “Obviously, what I’m saying right now, the message isn’t getting across. We’re going to sit in a room and hopefully get it figured out tomorrow.”
The Bulls easily submitted, as has been their pattern, and there just appeared to be a lack of passion from the jump. Honest questions need to be asked and answered, and Butler didn’t disagree with the thought some confrontation is necessary.
“Maybe it’s more a generalization instead of me to you. I don’t know. Do we have sensitive guys? I guess we’re gonna find out come tomorrow,” Butler said. “We’ll find out if somebody has a problem with somebody or they don’t like the way somebody is doing something. Now is the time to speak up on it. We’ve been talking about it all year long. We don’t have much confrontation, maybe that’s a good thing, maybe that’s a bad thing. I hope things get changed because we all want to be in the playoffs.”
Without Victor Oladipo, without Nikola Vucevic, the Magic left Dewayne Dedmon—a prime candidate for everybody’s favorite game “Who he play for?” and made everyone wearing red know his name.
He feasted on the Bulls’ frontline, scoring a career-high 18 points with a career-high 13 rebounds—with the former statistic being achieved with four minutes remaining in the first half.
“Just a lack of competitiveness; All we talked about is getting off to a good start tonight, giving ourselves a chance,” Hoiberg said. “We win games, more often than not, when we win the first quarter. They came out and scored 36 on us in the first 12 minutes.”
The only Bull who appeared to be bringing it was Gibson, who made his first eight field goals, schooling young and gifted forward Aaron Gordon while trying his best to keep the Bulls engaged and motivated.
But apparently the Magic onslaught was too much for the Bulls to resist—as was the case on a back-to-back set against another lottery-bound franchise, the New York Knicks.
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“Is the answer in the room? Hell, we all we got, it better be in this room,” Butler said. “And it better carry from this locker room to on the court. That’s the only way to get this fixed, nobody’s gonna play basketball for us.”
The Magic shot 70 percent early in the first and didn’t look back, as Rose and Butler each uncharacteristically missed pairs of free throws in the first half while the game was out of hand.
“It’s a lot. It’s not one thing here or there,” said forward Mike Dunleavy. “It’s not the offense or defense, it’s both. It’s a lot of stuff. To say one thing we’re not doing right and it’ll solve everything, that’s just not the case. It’s a bunch of stuff we’re struggling with. Effort, execution, discipline, continuity, you can go through the whole thing.”
Rose struggled with Elfrid Payton, who played maestro with 15 points and 10 assists in 30 minutes, as the Magic didn’t play terribly well, leaving an opening in the third quarter to cut the lead to nine.
But the Bulls weren’t up to task, shooting just 41 percent from the field and allowing 58 points in the paint to a team that didn’t have an active paint presence.
And even though the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons looked to be in a charitable mood Saturday, being on the way to losses that could’ve given the Bulls a little bit of life, the Bulls had other plans.
No resurrection on this Saturday or Sunday, or maybe any day this season.