The Chicago Bulls played without starting center Joakim Noah for the first time all year on Wednesday, but didn't find themselves any worse for the wear in their 96-94 win against the Orlando Magic. Taj Gibson assumed Noah's position in the starting lineup and contributed season highs with 21 points and 11 rebounds, complementing Carlos Boozer's season-high 31 points against an Orlando frontline missing Glen Davis' size and experience.
Chicago built a lead as large as 18 before Orlando frustrated the visiting Bulls by switching all of their screens, as shooting guard J.J. Redick pointed out after the game. The Bulls shot just 5-of-17 in the fourth quarter, allowing the Magic to creep closer, but prevailed anyway.
|Team||Pace||Efficiency||eFG%||FT Rate||OReb%||TO Rate|
|Green denotes a stat better than the team's 2012/13 average;|
red denotes a stat worse than the team's 2012/13 average.
Chicago's offense has lacked firepower in the absence of superstar point guard Derrick Rose, but one wouldn't know it based on the Bulls' efficiency on Wednesday. Even with a dud of a fourth quarter, the Bulls still put up more than 1.1 points per possession thanks to their ownership of the interior and their taking care of the ball. Chicago recorded an assist on 27 of its 36 field goals, with Richard Hamilton leading the way with a season-high nine assists. Further, the Bulls finished with only seven turnovers.
"They were really blitzing Rip on those pin-downs and that kind of opened it up for us," said Kirk Hinrich, who started alongside Hamilton in Chicago's backcourt. "Rip would make a quick pass that would set us up offensively."