BY JOSH ROBBINS
CHICAGO — The Orlando Magic can breathe a sigh of relief. They won’t play another regular-season road game until late October at the earliest.
Their 2013-14 road slate finally ended Monday night with an ugly turnover-filled 108-95 loss to the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.
Playing without Nik Vucevic and Jameer Nelson, the Magic gave the ball away 20 times, and starters Victor Oladipo, Arron Afflalo and Maurice Harkless were kept on the bench for the entire fourth quarter for the second consecutive game. Kyle O’Quinn, who scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds, didn’t play in the fourth quarter until Dewayne Dedmon fouled out with 2:06 to play.
Team’s worst road record
With the loss, the Magic (23-56) clinched at least a tie for the league’s third-worst record. If the Utah Jazz defeated the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night in Salt Lake City, the Magic would have been guaranteed to finish in sole possession of the league’s third-worst record.
The team in sole possession of the league’s third-worst record will enter the NBA Draft Lottery on May 20 with a 15.6 percent chance of winning the top overall pick, a 15.7 percent chance of receiving the second pick and a 15.6 percent chance of obtaining the third overall pick.
The Magic completed their road schedule with a 4-37 record — the worst road record in franchise history. Until this season, the worst road record in club history belonged to the 1989-90 Magic, the inaugural team, which went 6-35.
19 points for Nicholson
The Bulls started Monday night’s game by surging to a 14-2 lead, fueled partly by four Magic turnovers in the first 3:37.
The Magic responded well, cutting the deficit to 17-14 when O’Quinn scored on a putback layup after a miss by Doron Lamb.
Second-year power forward Andrew Nicholson contributed to Orlando’s improved play late in the first quarter and early in the second quarter. He made his first four shot attempts, including a pair of 3-pointers from the left corner.
Nicholson has been in a slump since mid-December, and Magic officials would like to see him enter the offseason on a positive note.
He finished the game with 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting.
The Magic committed a season-high 13 first-half turnovers, resulting in 15 Bulls points.
Late in the half, Oladipo drove down the right edge of the lane and dished to O’Quinn as O’Quinn barreled down the lane. O’Quinn dunked, cutting Chicago’s lead to 55-44.
But the Bulls struck back on their ensuing possession as Tony Snell swished a 11-foot fadeaway jumper as the second quarter expired.
Magic trailed early
The playoff-bound Bulls (47-32) looked engaged all game long.
Joakim Noah finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
On one early sequence, a referee whistled O’Quinn for a traveling violation, and Carlos Boozer celebrated by pumping his fist. Meanwhile, Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau continuously prowled the sidelines, and his hoarse growl occasionally could be heard on the opposite baseline on the other side of the court, 50 feet away.
The Magic trailed 61-48 early in the third quarter, but they slowly chipped away at the deficit.
Afflalo hit a turnaround jumper, and his basket started a 19-3 Orlando run.
After Mike Dunleavy missed a short jumper, the Magic started a fastbreak that ended with Dunleavy fouling O’Quinn as O’Quinn drove to the hoop. O’Quinn made both free throws to cut Chicago’s lead to 64-61.
Dunleavy countered by making a 3-pointer, but the Magic cut the lead to 67-64 when Oladipo sank a trey from the top of the arc with 3:43 left in the quarter.
A short while later, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn subbed out Oladipo and Afflalo for Ronnie Price and Lamb.
By the time the quarter ended, Chicago had extended its lead back to double digits, 81-70.