Leave it to the Orlando Magic to lose to the worst team in the league one night and then defeat the best team in the league the next time out.
That is exactly what Orlando did as they held on to defeat the Chicago Bulls 99-94 on Thursday night following Tuesday’s embarrassing loss to Charlotte.
Dwight Howard had his way with the Chicago front line bullying them to a tune of 29 points and 18 rebounds.
Howard gave the Chicago faithful a first hand look at what they could have if the Bulls enter the “Superman sweepstakes”.
Derrick Rose (17 points, 9 rebounds on 6-22 shooting) said before the game that he was sick and tired of the talk surrounding Howard and the potential of a union between the two all-stars.
“It’s definitely getting old,” Rose said. “We’re sick and tired of hearing it. Like I said, the city speaks for itself. Chicago, marketing wise, is a great city. If someone chose to come here, they would definitely fit. I’m cool with the teammates I have.”
Many applaud Rose for not wanting to “recruit” help and frankly it just isn’t in his nature publicly. That said what Orlando did in this game is further expose the Bulls need for another consistent scorer to go along with Rose. The Magic defense keyed in on the reigning MVP forcing him to look for less adept scoring teammates all evening. Carlos Boozer lead the Bulls in scoring with 26 points but the majority of his points came on jumpers off of pick and pop plays. Taj Gibson scored 14 points capping the Bulls at just 3 players to reach double figures in the contest.
The Magic started the game with a a point to prove finishing the first quarter with a 37-22 lead on 75% shooting. They were simply sizzling offensively causing Bulls coach, Tom Thibodeau, to use 3 timeouts in the opening quarter just to slow the pace.
Orlando eventually blew the lead but never lost composure in the second half. At this point blowing leads is not new to them and the Bulls are an elite team anyway.
Chicago extered so much effort getting back into the game that they shot just 1-11 on shots to tie or take the lead in the final period. This allowed the Magic to regain their wits and sustain the multiple Bulls runs.
Ryan Anderson hit a three late in the 4th quarter that gave the Magic a 93-91 lead which held up over the final minutes. Anderson struggled with foul trouble and shot just 3-9 from the floor but managed to double double with 11 points 10 rebounds and that huge go ahead three.
Orlando received contributions from Jason Richardson (18 points) and Hedo Turkgolu (13 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists). They truly helped get the Magic off to their great start. Turkgolu seems to finally be back to the Turk of old and his on the court chemistry with Howard has never been better.
Unfortunately for the Magic, Richardson suffered a late ankle injury on a collision with Jameer Nelson during a Bulls inbound play. X-rays were negative and the Magic will have to see how his ankle responds overnight.
Luckily for Richardson and Orlando there are a few days of rest before taking on the Indiana Pacers Sunday afternoon. Although the team will be off the phone lines will be burning as the March 15 trade deadline approaches. Standing at 3rd in the Eastern Conference and beating an elite team like the Bulls might truly push the Orlando front office towards the favor of keeping Howard the entire season.
Howard himself seems to be to be in good place with the team after tonight’s victory.
“We stepped up tonight and everybody played great,” Howard said. “I think it was our defense that got us the lead early in the game. We forced a couple of turnovers and we were able to run and get easy buckets. We have to play that brand of basketball to compete for a championship. We can’t fall back and have a game like Charlotte and expect to be in the same breath as Chicago and Miami.”
We will see what tomorrow brings.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com