With an extremely challenging road trip on the horizon, the Chicago Bulls will try to keep their surprising winning streak alive when they take on the Orlando Magic at home Wednesday night. The Bulls, who have won six in a row following a 3-20 start, will be tested at Cleveland, Boston and Milwaukee during a six-day trip that begins Thursday.
They’ll first try to stay hot against a Magic squad that dropped five in a row and would be tied with Chicago with another setback in this one. The Bulls’ run coincides with the return of forward Nikola Mirotic, who had 22 points in Monday’s 117-115 win over Philadelphia at home. “These guys have made leaps and bounds from where we were as far as making plays down the stretch and going out and playing with confidence when it matters most,” coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters. Orlando was without three starters and its top two scorers in a 114-110 loss to Detroit its last time out.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Orlando), NBCSN Chicago
ABOUT THE MAGIC (11-20): Aaron Gordon (calf, concussion) missed three of the last four games, Evan Fournier (ankle) missed five in a row and Terrence Ross (knee) has yet to play in December. The primary beneficiary of the available minutes has been former first-round selection Mario Hezonja, who erupted for a career-high 28 points while making 8-of-12 3-pointers in the loss to the Pistons on Sunday. “Mario’s got some ability,” coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s just a young player, like a lot of our guys on our team. He’s going to have those spurts.”
ABOUT THE BULLS (9-20): Kris Dunn also had 22 points while making 9-of-14 shots and both of his 3-point tries against the 76ers. “We’re just trying to compete each and every game,” Dunn told reporters after bumping his average to 15.6 in nine games this month. “We know that eventually a loss will come, but right now we’re just trying to ride on the streak.” Fellow guard Justin Holiday is shooting 41 percent from 3-point distance at home - compared to 29.5 percent on the road - after making 5-of-7 versus Philadelphia.
1. Magic C Nikola Vucevic has recorded six straight double-doubles while averaging 23 points and 14.3 rebounds.
2. Mirotic is averaging 24.3 points and 9.5 boards over the last four games.
3. Holiday led seven Bulls in double figures in a 105-83 win at Orlando on Nov. 3
PREDICTION: Bulls 109, Magic 100