It was the kind of game Tuesday night in which no one would have been surprised if the Bulls players suspended themselves.
The last time the Bulls were blown out twice consecutively like this—they fell in a rout in Atlanta on Sunday—the coach was fired.
Falling to 14-22 and hardly competitive, several Bulls players on the bench late seemed relatively indifferent to the result. It was perhaps a worse message than the events of the evening, which were discouraging as well.
Apparently it led to a dispute in the locker room as rookie Joakim Noah complained about the attitude on the bench and argued with veteran Ben Wallace. One witness said Luol Deng had to step between them to ease the tension.
With all that's going on internally, perhaps it was no surprise that interim coach Jim Boylan was sounding Skiles-esque in his disgust with the Bulls.
"The lack of effort in the third quarter was unacceptable," Boylan said about a 32-10 Magic run. "Probably the worst third quarter since I've been with the Chicago Bulls. Lack of effort all the way across the board from just about everybody, lack of concentration and focus.
"We're letting teams have their way with us. The defense is soft. The offense is anemic at times. We just seem to be casual with the ball. We have to change the way we're playing. I don't have any magic dust to sprinkle over anyone. I have seen these guys compete at a high level. For some reason we are not doing that.
"This is a habit now we have to break and we will."
That seems in doubt after the Bulls seemed to give up when the Magic pressed them in the third quarter after being down just 57-52 at halftime. But Orlando broke the game open with a staggering 16-2 run to open the third quarter as Bulls defenders waved meekly at Orlando perimeter shooters knocking down three-pointers and Dwight Howard using power moves inside.
Rashard Lewis led the Magic with 26 points as the Magic hit 11 of 28 threes. Howard had a relatively quiet 15 points and 11 rebounds as the Bulls crowded him. But that hurt the Bulls as Orlando's shooters roamed free and were welcomed as they drove to the basket.
This Bulls team always has had its scoring slumps, but it always played defense. But in five of the last eight games, the Bulls have given up more than 100 points, including to losing teams such as New York and Atlanta.
This was supposed to be the easy part of the schedule, but the Bulls fell to 5-5 under Boylan, and now they have injuries. Kirk Hinrich sat out with back spasms and Andres Nocioni is day-to-day after a hard fall on his hip late in the third quarter. He was one of the few players hustling.
This stretch also was supposed to be the time to form team unity after the suspension of Noah, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Boylan suspended him for Friday night's game and his teammates did the same for Sunday's. But with all the turmoil surrounding them, the Bulls have been flat, barely competing.
They stayed in the game during the first half as they shot 51 percent, but they collapsed in a storm of turnovers and apparent ennui in the third quarter, going down 89-62 after three.
They apparently left their white flags on the bench.
"We just didn't play well," Gordon said. "It is what it is."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun