Orlando Magic 107, Chicago Bulls 87

Balanced inside-out offense, coupled with stifling defense and the early exit of Chicago Bulls All-Star point guard Derrick Rose, helped the Orlando Magic extend their winning streak to 3 games against Chicago, winning by a 107-87 final. All 5 Magic starters scored in double-figures, led by Dwight Howard, who tallied 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Orlando made 12 three-pointers in the contest and cruised to a 41-17 lead after the first period. Vince Carter didn't come close to matching his 48-point performance against the New Orleans Hornets, but he didn't have to, shooting 6-of-10 from the field for 15 points in just 27 minutes as he continued his recent trend of attacking the basket. Bulls forward Luol Deng led everyone with 23 points on a series of aggressive takes to the rim, but Chicago's offense was simply at a loss without Rose, who left just 2 minutes into the game after a hard fall trying to convert in traffic against Howard, which he did.

Team Pace Efficiency eFG% FT Rate OReb% TO Rate
Magic 95 112.6 54.4% 26.6 20.5 17.9
Bulls 96 90.5 39.1% 21.8 18.9 13.5
Green denotes a stat better than the team's season average;
red denotes a stat worse than the team's season average.

To say Orlando's offense was on fire in the first quarter would be an understatement: the Magic scored on 19 of their 25 possessions in the period, and the figure could have jumped to 21 were it not for two missed layups from Rashard Lewis and Matt Barnes. Orlando exploited the Bulls' usually stout defense by pushing the ball after missed baskets and moving it well overall, be it in the halfcourt or in transition. 10 assists (5 from Jameer Nelson) on 15 field goals in the opening 12 minutes for the Magic, who are very tough to beat when they move the ball as decisively and precisely as they did tonight.

The Magic couldn't hope to shoot as well all game long, because no team can hit jumpers at such a pace throughout. That much is certain. What else is certain is that Chicago could get back into the game if it went on a bit of a scoring run. It never happened. The Bulls, with the dynamic Rose in the lineup, struggle offensively due to their over-reliance on the long two-pointer. With Kirk Hinrich running the offense, and with noted chucker Jannero Pargo backing him up, and with John Salmons trying to go one-on-one at every available opportunity, that run never happened. I admire Deng's willingness to get to the basket and draw fouls, but he was really the only Bull to do that consistently tonight.

I mean, I hate to be so brief here, but the Magic took care of business so easily and so simply that I'm not sure what's left to say. Chicago's offense suffered without Rose, and its defense was perhaps a step or two slow due to playing the night before. Joakim Noah's absence may have also played a role on that front. Without his length and athleticism to bother Howard, the Bulls could only throw Brad Miller and 10-day contract signee Chris Richard at him.

I'll close with this note, I suppose: Orlando's reserve backcourt played quite well tonight. J.J. Redick scored 10 points on 5 shots in 24 minutes, adding 5 rebounds, and 4 assists for good measure. Jason Williams posted 10 points, 1 rebound, and 2 assists of his own, and his pushing the pace kept Chicago on its heels while facing a huge deficit.

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