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Tonight's Game: Orlando Magic at Chicago Bulls

2008/2009 NBA Regular Season
Orlando Magic main logo
Chicago Bulls main logo
41-14 25-31
February 24th, 2009
United Center
8:00 PM
FSN Florida HD
Probable starters:
Rafer Alston PG Derrick Rose
Courtney Lee SG Ben Gordon
Hedo Turkoglu SF Luol Deng
Rashard Lewis PF Tyrus Thomas
Dwight Howard C Joakim Noah
Previous Meetings:
November 3rd: Magic 96, Bulls 93
December 31st: Magic 113, Bulls 94

The Chicago Bulls team the Orlando Magic will face tonight is likely better than the iteration they played earlier this season. At the trading deadline, GM John Paxson was able to swing a deal for center Brad Miller and swingman John Salmons. He was under pressure to do something after reportedly passing on Kevin Garnett and Pau Gasol in consecutive years.

So while Miller gives the Bulls a credible inside presence and Salmons is an improvement over Andres Nocioni, whom they jettisoned in the trade, there's still a glaring weakness in the Bulls organization. That's the head coach. Vinny Del Negro was awesome, relatively speaking, in NBA Live 97 for Sega Genesis, but he does not appear to be head coaching material, especially not for a relatively young team that needs some discipline. And no, fining players for eating in the locker room does not count as "discipline." Additionally, the crack team at The Blowtorch found Del Negro's playbook. It leaves a lot to be desired.

The Bulls, for all their faults, are one of the league's better teams in effective field goal percentage defense. It comes at a cost, though. Perhaps due to their frenzied close-outs, they commit a ton of fouls. Playing Joakim Noah and Aaron Gray heavy minutes at center can do that to a team. They also don't rebound well. If the Magic have an off shooting night, the game could be close. On balance, though, the Magic shouldn't have much trouble dispatching the Bulls. Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard are just too much. Then again, Derrick Rose is pretty darn quick, Ben Gordon can get buckets in a hurry, and Luol Deng always gives Hedo Turkoglu fits.

Tip's at 8. Go Magic.