ORLANDO — The Chicago Bulls still say they want to make the NBA playoffs, but they don’t act — or play — like it anymore.
The once-proud, now-hapless Bulls lost their third consecutive game Saturday night, falling in embarrassing fashion, 111-89, to the Orlando Magic. They never challenged in the second half.
“Obviously we’re really struggling right now,” veteran guard Mike Dunleavy said. “We look like a team that’s lost in terms of doing the things you need to do to win. It’s a lot of stuff right now.”
The Bulls (36-36) fell two games behind the Detroit Pistons for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We talked before the game about getting off to a good start tonight,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “But obviously what I’m saying is not getting across. It was just a lack of competitiveness. It’s very disappointing. Very disappointing.”
Magic center Dewayne Dedmon, starting in place of the injured Nikola Vucevic, scored a career-high 18 points and grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds in helping the Magic (30-43) snap a six-game losing streak. The Magic had lost Friday night in Miami, but the Bulls seemed to invigorate them Saturday.
Dedmon, in his third NBA season, made nine of 14 shots and played only 22 minutes. Point guard Elfrid Payton had 15 points and 10 assists. Evan Fournier scored 12 points. Reserve center Jason Smith had 14 points and five rebounds. Reserve Andrew Nicholson had 14 points and six rebounds. The Magic starters did not play in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve had a lot of halves, or quarters where we’re very energetic and see each other well and play unselfishly,” Magic coach Scott Skiles said. “Tonight, we did it very well throughout. We had a lot of good, unselfish plays all night. When we do that, we look like a legitimate team.”
The Bulls were led by Taj Gibson with 16 points. Jimmy Butler had 12 points. Dunleavy had 10 points. Pau Gasol had seven points and a team-high eight assists. Reserve Doug McDermott had 12 points. Reserve Aaron Brooks was ejected in the final minute after his second technical foul.
The Bulls were coming off back-to-back losses to the New York Knicks, coming to Orlando after being off Thursday. Gasol was returning after missing both games against the Knicks, but things got worse. The Magic were shooting 60 percent (40 of 67) after three quarters.
The Magic led by as many as 29 points after scoring the first 11 points in the fourth quarter. The Bulls didn’t score in the fourth until McDermott hit a 3-pointer with 7:02 remaining.
“We’re trying to figure this out,” said Derrick Rose, who had just nine points and two assists in 29 minutes. “There is a lot of frustration, but we’re trying. We’re all trying.”
After trailing by 18 at halftime, the Bulls closed to nine points midway in the third quarter. The Magic, though, made a 10-0 run late in the period and rebuilt an 89-69 lead. They led by 18 going into the fourth.
The Magic led, 68-50, at halftime after hitting 30 of their 48 shots (62.5 percent). Dedmon, whose previous career high was 12 points, had 16 points and 10 rebounds by intermission. He had 10 points in the first quarter.
The Magic led by as many as 20 points in the second period after Fournier completed a 3-point play and Mario Hezonja followed with a 3-point basket.
The Magic made 16 of their 22 shots (72.7 percent) in the first quarter, showing no sign of fatigue after losing Friday night in Miami. The Bulls were coming off back-to-back losses to the New York Knicks.
The Bulls got 10 points apiece from Gibson and Butler in the first half, but they hardly challenged early.
NOTES: Bulls C Pau Gasol returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games (both losses) with swelling in his right knee. … SG Jimmy Butler, the Bulls’ best player, said Saturday morning that his recent struggles might be mental as well as physical. Butler has looked tentative in the seven games since returning from a knee bruise that cost him 13 games earlier this season. “I don’t know if it’s still hurting, or it’s all in my mind,” Butler said. “I don’t know what to call it. I just have to go play and stop worrying about it.” … Magic rookie G Mario Hezonja got his seventh start of the season Saturday, filling in this time for G Victor Oladipo, who missed his second consecutive game with a sore right wrist. … Rockets C Dwight Howard, who can become a free agent this summer, is considering a return to Orlando, according to the Bleacher Report. Howard spent eight seasons with the Magic but refused to sign a contract extension and was traded to the Lakers in 2012. … The Bulls and Magic split their two earlier meetings. Last season, they split four games.