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Bulls fail rough back-to-back test

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The Bulls’ James Johnson finds his path blocked by the Magic’s Vince Carter during an exhibition game Saturday.


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ORLANDO, Fla. -- When it was pointed out to coach Tom Thibodeau early in camp that the Bulls faced a couple of tough back-to-backs during the preseason, he said it was good because it would simulate what they would face during the regular season.

Perhaps that's true. Maybe playing in Chicago and Orlando on consecutive nights during the preseason will prepare the Bulls for what lies ahead. But this much was certain Saturday: They aren't up to the challenge right now.

The Bulls fell behind immediately and didn't offer much resistance. The Orlando Magic led by as many as 47 points and rolled to a 105-67 rout at the new Amway Center.

''It was a good test for us because we can measure ourselves against a high-caliber team,'' Thibodeau said. ''The first month of the season, we're gonna have a number of these situations. Whatever the circumstance is, we have to be ready to rise up and play the next night.

''We've got to prepare ourselves better, I've got to prepare us better and we have to be prepared for the start of the game.''

The Bulls (2-4) have two preseason games left before the regular season opens Oct. 27.

''If anything, it's a learning experience,'' point guard Derrick Rose said. ''I told the guys, 'Never again.' We just have to ball. Tonight, we didn't ball. We didn't show any fight.''

After losing an overtime game Friday in Chicago, the Bulls didn't arrive at their hotel in Orlando until 3:15 a.m. The players slept in, but their fatigue and sluggishness was apparent early on.

''There wasn't a lot of energy on our part tonight,'' center Joakim Noah said. ''It's disappointing to lose like that, definitely embarrassing, but we've got to move on and get ready for the next one.''

The Magic scored the first nine points of the game and stretched the lead to double digits before many had settled into their seats.

The Bulls struggled to stop the Magic, but their biggest problems were on offense. They scored only 10 points in the first quarter and 23 in the first half.

The only Bulls starter to score in the first half was Rose, who had four points. The only Bulls player to make at least half of his shots before halftime was backup guard C.J. Watson, who had 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting and finished with 13.

Despite the Bulls' offensive woes, Rose still blamed the defense.

''Our offense, you're gonna have your on-and-off nights,'' Rose said. ''But defensively, that's when you have to push harder.''

Thibodeau wouldn't disagree with that assessment.

''In the NBA, you can find an excuse every night,'' he said. ''We don't want to find any excuses. We'll try to learn from this, make some corrections and strive for improvement.''

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