ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Lauri Markkannen shooting free throws was a fitting way for the Chicago Bulls to finish off the Orlando Magic on Friday night.
After being fouled by Aaron Gordon on a 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left, Markannen missed the first attempt — the Bulls’ only miss of the game in 19 attempts — and made the next two for a 111-109 victory.
The Magic missed 11 of 24 free throws, two by B.J. Augustin with 34 seconds left. He went into the game as the NBA’s 12th-leading free-throw shooter at 87.3 percent.
“When you look back at the game, we lost on so many things, like free throws, the fouling, the missed coverage on Markannen,” said Evan Fournier, who led Orlando with 22 points. “It’s tough.”
The Magic came out of the All-Star break on a season-high five-game win streak. A win night would have given them their longest winning streak since a nine-game run in the middle of the 2010-11 season.
Markannen finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Zach LaVine added 22 points for the Bulls, Robin Lopez had 18 and Otto Porter Jr. 17.
“That was a lot of back and forth basketball,” LaVine said. “We’re making a shot and they’re making a shot. It’s fun basketball, as long as you end up with the win.”
The Magic’s streak ended because of their failures at the finish. Aside from the foul on Gordon was coach Steve Clifford’s decision to keep All-Star center Nikola Vucevic on the bench after a timeout in the final minute. Bulls center Lopez promptly came up with an offensive rebound and scored, putting the Chicago up 108-106.
“I didn’t see they put Lopez back in the game and we ended up too small out there and ended up giving up an offensive rebound, and that was as big a possession as the foul, as big a possession as the missed free throws,” Clifford said. “So nobody made a bigger mistake than I did.”
Vucevic, who finished 19 points and 13 rebounds, appreciated Clifford’s candor.
“You respect when a coach comes in like that and takes accountability for a mistake. It shows he means what he says,” Vucevic said. “But it doesn’t come down to one play. There were a lot of things we didn’t do as players.’
The Bulls won their second straight, but only their fifth in the last 23 games.
“Both teams threw punches and both teams had deficits they had to overcome,” coach Jim Boylen said. “That’s the kind of game you want to play in.”
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