Monday, November 28, 2022

Magic’s Cole Anthony shoots at Bulls

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When it rains it pours. The Chicago Bulls have lost four straight games and lost six of their last seven games, which has left them reeling after a relatively strong start to the new season. It was refreshing to see her slip up from the end of last season.

But those cracks, shown when the Bulls won just eight games after last season’s All-Star break, have shown themselves again.

They were widespread as they fell 19 points behind the Orlando Magic before losing 108-107.

They had a chance to put it away, but Nikola Vucevic missed two free throws that would have cost them four points before sophomore magic guard Jalen Suggs struck the game-winning three. After the game, third-year magic guard Cole Anthony took to social media to give the Bulls and his team their first road win of the season.

Anthony, son of former New York Knicks guard and ’90s Bulls wrecker Greg Anthony, didn’t even compete in the competition as he sat out with an oblique injury. But the two players in the picture he shared combined for 41 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds.

Big man Wendell Carter Jr., who the bulls drafted seventh overall in 2018, was sold to the Magic for Vucevic in a deal that had been planned almost since his demise ahead of the 2020 trading 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 against them.

In six games against the Bulls, Carter averaged 21.7 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He’s plus 27 at this time and is helping the Magic earn a portion of the last six meetings since he arrived.

He wasn’t the only part of the Bulls’ past that hurt them in this case.

Forward Franz Wagner had 20 of the duo’s points, eight of their rebounds and three of their assists despite struggling with foul problems. He was able to come back with less than eight minutes to go and count his last five points and dish out an assist…on a lob for Carter.

Orlando drafted the sophomore with the eighth overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft, a pick owned by the Bulls but traded out with Vucevic.

To make matters worse, the bulls owe the Magic one more election this year.

The Bulls’ recent struggles have had the rumor mill spinning in many directions around them. Some wonder if there’s a way to bolster a lineup that’s lacking in defense and shooting, while others wonder if they’ll admit the futility of that core in a strong Eastern Conference.

If it’s the latter, there might be enough incentive for the bulls to finish this group and prepare for a run the other way.

It doesn’t have to be a Victor Wembenyama or Bust tank either.

Next year’s draft class is expected to be at least four times deep, with guard Scoot Henderson and twins Amen and Ausar Thompson also expected to be available.

The Bulls are allowed to keep this year’s first-round winner if he finishes in the top four in the lottery. With a 6-10 record, they have three wins and four losses ahead of the NBA’s worst 3-14 Detroit Pistons. But they’re also just two wins better than the Los Angeles Lakers for that fourth-place finish.

To secure their place, however, the Bulls must finish within the last three records, as those teams can’t drop further than fourth place once the ping-pong balls settle down.

The Bulls are allowed to keep this year’s first-round winner if he finishes in the top four in the lottery. With a 6-10 record, they have three wins and four losses ahead of the NBA’s worst 3-14 Detroit Pistons. But they’re also just two wins better than the Los Angeles Lakers for that fourth-place finish.



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