For most of Saturday, the Orlando Magic’s 128-109 home loss to the Chicago Bulls looked like it was going to go how most of their games on the second night of a back-to-back have gone.
The defensive intensity was lacking early. Their 3-point shots weren’t falling.
The Bulls took advantage of the Magic’s lackluster play, holding leads of 25-19 at the end of the first, 60-47 at halftime and 89-64 with 3:27 in the third quarter.
The Magic appeared to have lacked answers to the problems the Bulls were causing — until their second unit found them.
The bench unit of Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs (11 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds), Admiral Schofield, Bol Bol and Moe Wagner found the two-way play the Magic lacked for most of the game.
They got the stops needed to cut the deficit to 95-81 at the end of the third.
Wagner (team-high 27 points) scored 16 straight points tonight during the second half, cutting the deficit to 98-86 with 11:19 remaining.
Anthony (21 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench) had back-to-back buckets to trim the deficit to 98-90 with 10:22 left — the first time the deficit was single digits since midway through the second quarter.
The Magic stuck with the Bulls for most of the fourth despite the shotmaking from Zach LaVine (32 points), DeMar DeRozan (32 points, 8 assists) and Nikola Vučević (26 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists). Anthony made a 3 to cut the deficit to 111-106 with 4:28 remaining.
They didn’t get any closer, with the Bulls (23-26) holding off the Magic (19-31) at Amway Center to give Orlando the defeat on the second night of the back-to-back.
The lineup of Anthony, Suggs, Bol, Schofield and Wagner played the final 14:49.
The Magic fell to the Heat 110-105 Friday loss at Miami.
They didn’t need a lot of time to dissect what the problems were in that.
“The turnovers,” coach Jamahl Mosley said pregame ahead of the matchup against the Bulls, “some of them were unforced. The ones that led to the breakout easy baskets for them are ones that hurt.”
The Magic’s 20 turnovers led to 32 Heat points and were their most giveaways since their Nov. 14 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.
Ball retention was an issue for the Magic earlier in the season but not recently.
They had the league’s second-worst turnover frequency (16.8%) through their first 24 games but had improved significantly. Their turnover frequency of 13.9% was the league’s 16th-best mark — middle of the pack — in their 24 games ahead of Friday.
This gives credence to the idea that Friday was simply an off night against a Heat squad that’s one of the better teams at forcing giveaways.
That appeared to be the case, with the Magic only turning the ball over 13 times Saturday.
“We’re constantly teaching,” Mosley said. “In wins and losses, you’re going to find something you can constantly improve on.”
Jonathan Isaac was available against the Bulls after sitting against the Heat because of left knee injury management.
He finished with 5 points (2-of-7 shooting) and 4 rebounds in 9 minutes.
Isaac played his first NBA game in over 2½ years in Monday’s win over the Boston Celtics, recording 10 points (4-for-7 shooting, 2 of 3 on 3-pointers), 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 assist in 10 minutes.
He had 5 points (2-for-4 shooting, 1 of 2 on 3s), 2 assists and 2 steals in 8 minutes in Wednesday’s win over the Indiana Pacers.
The Magic started a four-game road trip Monday with a matchup against the 76ers in Philadelphia.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.