As the Orlando Magic’s game against the Chicago Bulls on Friday night approached, Dwight Howard said the Magic had not faced much adversity so far in this strange, compressed regular season.

So how would the team handle hardship when it inevitably arrived?

As it turned out, badly.

The Magic were outplayed and outhustled by the Bulls, and the 97-83 home loss prompted their coach to draw a stark assessment of how the team compares to the NBA’s elite.

“Quite simply, we’re not at that level,” Van Gundy said.

“We’re not at that level right now. Not close. And that’s OK. I’m not saying that crying or complaining. That’s just the way it is. You’ve got to face reality, and we have to put in the work to try and reach that level, because, right now, we’re not close to that level of play.”

Van Gundy found his team lacking on the boards, in ball movement and in toughness. The Bulls corralled 14 offensive rebounds and outrebounded the Magic overall 46 to 37. The Magic also received minimal contributions from power forward Ryan Anderson, point guard Jameer Nelson and shooting guard J.J. Redick.

Orlando now has played two games this season against teams that have winning records, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Bulls, and the Magic lost each game. The sample size is too small to draw definitive conclusions, but the Magic (5-3) performed badly both times.

On Friday, the Bulls (7-1) — including Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer or Kyle Korver — simply overwhelmed them.

Deng scored 21 points, Boozer had 20 and the duo keyed a run midway through the second quarter in which the Bulls took control of the game.

Korver chipped in 18, and his 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter extended the Bulls’ lead to 83-77 after the Magic had regained the game’s momentum and were on the verge of a big second-half comeback.

“In a big game like this, we have to show up no matter if we’re making shots or not,” said Orlando shooting guard Jason Richardson, who finished with 17 points.

“We’ve got to do something to help this team win, and I think that’s the road we’ve got to cross. I don’t think we’re a long ways away. I think we’re right there, but we’ve got to do those little things. We can’t have a team come in here and get that many offensive rebounds and just outwork us completely.”

Howard finished with 28 points and 15 rebounds, both game-highs.

And he and power forward Glen Davis provided Orlando with almost all of its toughness.

After a terrible performance in a win over Washington on Wednesday, Davis returned to his dirty-work ways, hauling in 10 rebounds to go with eight points. He also dropped to Amway Center’s parquet floor several times to gather lose basketballs.

Early in the fourth quarter, Davis fell onto the court beyond the baseline and was motionless on his back for a few moments. Howard stood over him, pressed on Davis’ chest and pretended to shock Davis back to life.

Davis eventually reached his feet, but he and Howard couldn’t provide enough electricity to overcome their team’s shortcomings.

Reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose made the Bulls go, as he almost always does, scoring 21 points, dishing out 10 assists and grabbing eight rebounds.