Bulls rally, LaVine benched, but Orlando pulls out win with late 3-pointer
Some games just leave a team baffled, stunned and without any answers.
After the Bulls bumbled their way to a 19-point deficit in the third quarter, they rallied behind DeMar DeRozan's 41 points and held a 4-point lead over Orlando with 26.5 seconds left at the United Center.
But with a 2-point edge, Nikola Vucevic missed 2 free throws and second-year Magic guard Jalen Suggs hit a step-back 3-pointer over Ayo Dosunmu with five seconds left to pull out a stunning 108-107 victory for the Magic and hand the Bulls a fourth-straight loss.
"We let luck come into play," Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. "Suggs is a terrific player, so I don't want to say like he made a lucky shot. You left yourself open to be beat. It had less to do with his shot and more to do with the entire first half."
The late collapse wasn't even the whole story. With Zach LaVine struggling like he never has since joining the Bulls, Billy Donovan subbed out the two-time all-star in favor of Dosunmu with 3:43 left.
There wasn't much room for debate on this one. LaVine went 1-for-14 from the field for 4 points and took some poor shots in the fourth quarter. But LaVine still wanted a chance to redeem himself late.
"I've missed a lot of shots, I've had a lot of games where I've played terrible and in four or five minutes I can get 15, 16 points," LaVine said in the locker room. "I just wasn't able to shoot the next shot."
LaVine didn't seem angry when he talked about Donovan's decision and said he wasn't sure if he's ask his coach about the move. The bottom line is the Bulls nearly pulled off a nice comeback, but fell short in a game where very little went right.
"It's a tough decision. Obviously I want to be out there, of course," LaVine said. "The reason I'm here is to go out there and be Zach LaVine. It's coach's decision. It's tough, but that's why he's the coach.
"Obviously I've got to do a better job in the beginning of the game to make my shots. You play a guy like me down the stretch. That's what I do. Do I like the decision? No. Do I got to live with? Yeah. I've got to put my shoes on and play the net game."
More than Vucevic's missed free throws, Donovan pointed to the previous possession, when the Bulls allowed Suggs to rebound Wendell Carter's 3-point miss. Dosunmu then fouled Suggs and sent him to the foul line, allowing Orlando to get within 2 with 20.3 seconds left.
The Bulls needed three tries to get the ball inbounds after those free throws and used their final time outs in the process. That meant DeRozan had to fire one from half-court at the final buzzer.
"We play great once we're behind," LaVine said. "We're fighting for our lives, we're playing the right way, we're getting into the ball, more physical, more force offensively and defensively, but you can't put a finger on why we're coming out slow. Put that on us.
"It's still early in the season but you don't want to fall into the habits of losing, losing, losing, keep saying we're going to get the next one. I think we'll be OK."
Orlando, which won its first road game of the season, took control late in the first quarter. After LaVine replaced DeRozan late in the first, the Magic went on a 15-3 run to build a 37-23 lead after one.
The Bulls (6-10) took the lead for the first time since the first quarter with 40 seconds left when the Magic double-teamed DeRozan, he passed out of it and found Javonte Green for a layup. On the next trip, Dosunmu blocked Suggs' driving layup and DeRozan found Green on the break for a flying one-hand slam to make it 107-103 with 26.5 seconds left.
Green didn't play at all in the first half, with Donovan saying he thought Derrick Jones Jr. had earned a longer run with his recent play. DeRozan played the entire second half, while Green was on the floor for all but eight seconds of the fourth quarter.
Coby White made his return after missing eight games with a quad bruise. He played four minutes in the second quarter and did not score.