ORLANDO – Things were going as they typically do for Billy Donovan’s team over the first six weeks of the season, even with one of his players.
Lauri Markkanen, who is enjoying one of the best stretches of his four-year career, had 13 early points against the Magic Friday night in Orlando. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to last, as his trend of strong games came to a halt thanks to a shoulder injury.
He suffered it going to the hoop in the first quarter but played on for a bit, going 5-of-9 from the floor with five rebounds, but the strain forced Markkanen to the sidelines. He’ll likely be there on Saturday when the Bulls meet the Magic again, trying to overcome a loss that has a familiar feel.
Not that inconsistency wasn’t expected from the group, but the ups-and-downs during the course of a game have become a calling card of the Bulls. Falling behind in the third quarter then rallying in the fourth has made things straining and entertaining, but the team has come out on the short end more often.
That was the case on Friday, where the Magic built a 14-point fourth quarter lead and never gave up the lead, despite the Bulls bringing it to even with two minutes to go. But Nikola Vucevic (game-high 43 points) and Orlando had enough at the end to pull ahead of the Bulls for a 123-119 victory.
While continuing a recent pattern, it also sends the Bulls to a their second-straight loss and drops their record to 8-13.