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Bulls 87, Magic 86: Late Orlando rally falls just short in another narrow loss

Beno Udrih's best game in an Orlando uniform wasn't enough to carry the Magic to victory, as his turnover while driving to the basket with ten seconds remaining allowed the Bulls to escape with the victory.

Nik Vučević and Luol Deng
Nik Vučević and Luol Deng
Jonathan Daniel

It seemed like it was going to be the same old story for the Orlando Magic in their game against the Chicago Bulls in the Bulls' 87-86 victory. The Magic competed hard for over three quarters before falling apart as the Bulls, using only a seven-man rotation because of injuries, went on a 18-4 run in a 6:18 stretch of the fourth quarter to take a seemingly convincing 87-78 lead with 3:51 remaining. Inexplicably, Chicago did not score another point the rest of the way, missing their last five shots and turning the ball over twice. Nate Robinson's missed jumper with 23.8 seconds remaining gave the Magic the ball and the last shot with a chance at the win.

It wasn't meant to be for Orlando, as the Bulls' defense surrounded Magic point guard Beno Udrih on his drive to the basket and forced a turnover as the Bulls' Jimmy Butler stole the ball as Udrih tried to pass after he spun around on his way to the basket. Chicago was able to play keep-away, as Orlando was unable to foul until 0.2 seconds remained, and hung on for the 87-86 victory.

Udrih scored a Magic career-high 27 points on efficient 10-of-17 shooting, and added 7 assists with 5 rebounds. Udrih scored 25 of his 27 points in the second and third quarters, including 18 points in the third. Udrih was able to effectively work off screens, shooting the ball quickly before a Bulls' defender could come and help. In the fourth quarter, Butler was assigned to cover Udrih, and did an effective job guarding him, as Udrih only attempted one shot in the final nine minutes of the game.

Robinson, the Bulls' spark plug off the bench, scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, which helped lead the Bulls' comeback. Robinson scored 10 of 13 points for the Bulls in a 4:22 stretch early in the fourth as the Bulls overtook Orlando for the lead.

The Magic outshot the Bulls 42 1/2 percent to 40 percent, and outrebounded them 45-37. The major factor that allowed the Bulls to win was that they outscored the Magic 24-12 from 3-point range, including connecting on 5-of-6 threes in the fourth quarter. Robinson and forward Luol Deng each connected on two 3s in that final quarter, and seldom-used reserve Vladimir Radmanovic connected on the other triple.

In one of the most hideous opening quarters one might ever want to see, Orlando outshot Chicago 32 percent to 22 percent on their way to a 19-14 lead going into the second quarter. Things improved offensively in the second quarter for both teams, as the Magic outscored the Bulls 26-24 and led 43-40 at the half. Orlando outshot Chicago 40 percent to 33 percent in the first half, with center Nik Vucevic scoring 10 points along with 8 boards to lead the Magic and forward Carlos Boozer scoring 10 points along with 7 boards to lead the Bulls.

Orlando increased their lead in the third quarter to 69-61 after a Vucevic jumper with under a minute remaining. Magic guard Doron Lamb was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 16.5 seconds remaining, but only made 1-of-3 free throws, as the Bulls' Robinson connected on a 3-pointer just before the third quarter buzzer to cut the Magic lead to 70-66 entering the fourth.

Luol Deng shared high-scoring honors for the Bulls with Robinson, scoring 11 of his 19 points in the second half. Point guard Kirk Hinrich (13 points), Butler (12 points), and Boozer (12 points) also scored in double figures. Center Nazr Mohammed grabbed 11 rebounds with 3 blocks.

For the Magic, Vucevic added a double-double of 16 points, 15 rebounds, along with 2 blocks and 2 steals. Forward Tobias Harris also contributed a double-double, with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Harris, though, continued a troubling trend for him with poor shooting, as he shot just 5-of-17. In his last four games, Harris is shooting just 21-of-71 (29.6 percent) from the field.

Rookie DeQuan Jones led the Magic reserves with 10 points, but shot just 3-of-11. Rookie Kyle O'Quinn impressed with 8 points and 4 rebounds in just 8 minutes of play.

Rookie Maurice Harkless, who has been impressive for the Magic for the last several weeks, went scoreless for the game and did not play in the second half, reportedly with a sore knee.

Orlando remains 1/2 game ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats for the league's worst record, and closes out its five-game road trip Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.