NBA Basketball

Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Chicago 26 20 25 20 91
Orlando 24 27 26 20 97
6:30 PM PT7:30 PM MT8:30 PM CT9:30 PM ET2:30 GMT10:30 7:30 PM MST9:30 PM EST6:30 UAE (+1)03:3021:30 ET8:30 PM CTNaN:� , December 13, 2018
Mexico City Arena, Mexico City,   Attendance: 20,201

Bulls, Magic leave the country for matchup in Mexico

According to STATS
According to STATS

Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic

  1. The Bulls swept the season series between these teams in 2017-18, going 4-0 against the Magic for the second time in team history (also 2012-13). Chicago's five-game winning streak is tied for the team's longest-active win streak against any single opponent (also vs. Hawks).
  2. Chicago has lost its last two games, both at home, by a combined margin of 75 points. That is tied for the most points any team has ever been outscored by in a two-game span at home in NBA history (Warriors -- from January 15-19, 1985).
  3. The Magic have lost three games in a row, most recently recording a season-low in points in a 101-76 loss at Dallas. Orlando attempted just five free throws in the loss against the Mavericks, tying the fewest attempted in a single game by any team this season.
  4. Justin Holiday has made at least one three-pointer in 28 straight games to begin the season, which is the longest streak to begin a season in Bulls' franchise history. Holiday's 81 three-pointers made are the most ever by a Bulls players through 28 team games in a season. Holiday and Paul George are the only two players in the NBA this season with at least 80 three-pointers made and 50 steals.
  5. Nikola Vucevic scored a season-low eight points in Orlando's most recent game, failing to reach double-digit points for the first time all season. Over his last seven home games, Vucevic has averaged 25.0 points and 12.6 rebounds with 58.7/40.7/91.7 percent shooting splits.
  6. Zach LaVine has led the Bulls in scoring 20 times this season, tied with Joel Embiid, James Harden, and LeBron James for second most in the NBA. Only Damian Lillard (21 times) has led his team in scoring more often than LaVine has this season.

In the mid-1990s, a trip to Mexico City with the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic would have displayed stars such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O'Neal on an international stage.

Now the 27th time the league plays a game in Mexico involves one team coming off two humbling showings and another trying to find their way after a coaching change.

The Magic will be the home team Thursday night when they face the Bulls at Mexico City's Arena Ciudad de Mexico in the NBA's eighth regular-season game played in Mexico.

While the Bulls have never played a game in Mexico, the Magic participated in a preseason game there in 2012. After facing Chicago, they will host the Utah Jazz on Saturday in Mexico.

Including preseason games, it will Orlando's 11th international game in team history. The Bulls will be playing their first regular-season international game in team history and their first international game since a 2013 preseason game in Brazil.

Location aside, both teams will be trying to reverse some of their recent results.

Orlando (12-15) is three games below .500 for the first time since it was 4-7 after a seven-point home loss to the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 7.

The Magic went 8-5 in their next 13 games after falling three below but also are 3-6 in their last nine games since Nov. 18 after taking double-digit losses to Indiana on Friday and at Dallas on Monday.

In equaling their second-largest margin of defeat, the Magic shot 36 percent and missed 20 of 28 3-point attempts on a night when they allowed Dallas to shoot 42.7 percent.

"These trips are always fun, going to a different city and a different country and you'll get to see some things you usually wouldn't (see)," Orlando center Nikola Vucevic told reporters Monday. "We can be tourists in the summer, but for now it's important for us to focus on these next two games and play better as a team.

"If we could get these next two games, it would be huge for us. We can't get too much under .500 if we want to stay in the race for the playoffs."

Vucevic is coming off one of his worst games when he scored a season-low eight points and was 4 of 15 from the field. Despite the subpar showing, Vucevic is averaging 18.3 in his last four games and has reached at least 20 points in 11 of his last 16.

Vucevic's poor night occurred when Evan Fournier sat out because of a personal matter and rookie Mo Bamba to a team suspension. Both are expected to return for the next two games, but Jonathon Simmons tweaked his right ankle during Wednesday's practice and may sit out.

"We go to Mexico City and we play the Bulls and Utah, so first we'll focus on the Bulls and try to get that game," Vucevic said. "We just have to do much better than tonight (Monday) and I have to do a better job leading the team, as well."

The Bulls will be playing their fifth game since Jim Boylen took over for Fred Hoiberg. Chicago played two close games while losing at Indiana and beating Oklahoma City in Boylen's first two games, but the next two resulted in blowout losses.

On Saturday, the Bulls absorbed the worst loss in team history, 133-77 to Boston. Boylen attempted to call a practice on Sunday after the second night of a back-to-back, but some players threatened to boycott it.

Instead, the Bulls had two hours of team meetings that involved management and followed a players-only meeting. On Monday, the Bulls lost for the 13th time in 15 games by getting outscored 63-33 in the second half of a 108-89 loss to the Sacramento Kings.

On Tuesday, the Bulls announced the formation of a leadership committee to help improve communication.

"I want the leadership group because they will have input on what we do and how we operate," Boylen told reporters after practice Tuesday. "It doesn't mean that I'm not the head coach and they're the players, but they're going to be respected as men at this level."

Zach LaVine is reportedly among the key voices in developments of the forming the leadership council and scored 19 points in Monday's loss. He was among those who took issue with Boylen questioning the players' toughness after the loss to Boston.

"We're just trying to figure out the right dudes to lead the team who will be with us moving forward," LaVine told reporters. "But I think it's a great thing, especially with a young team."

The leadership committee also is being formed as the Bulls are getting healthier.

Lauri Markkanen is averaging 15.6 points in five games since returning from a sprained elbow on Dec. 1. Bobby Portis and Kris Dunn both returned Monday from lengthy absences with knee injuries.

Chicago has won the last five meetings against Orlando.

Updated December 13, 2018

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