After dropping their final three games on the West coast this season, the Orlando Magic made a pitstop in Chicago to take on the Bulls before returning home for a three game home stand. The Magic picked apart the Bulls all night, pushing their record to 10-1 when they score over 100 points, winning 121-114.
Like their game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night, the Magic were tasked with playing without both Tobias Harris and Evan Fournier, who missed their second straight game with left ankle and right knee injuries respectively. However, unlike their game in Portland, the Magic came out energized, moving the ball with a good pace, getting good looks, and jumping out on the heavily favored Bulls. The Magic went to their man in the middle, Nikola Vucevic, early and often. Vucevic, who scored a career high 34 in Saturday night's loss, finished his big opening quarter with 12 points and five rebounds. Orlando shot a blazing 60.9 percent, while holding the Bulls to a chilly 38.1 percent. Chicago was led by Pau Gasol and Derrick Rose, who both scored six in the oping 12 minutes.
Much like the opening quarter, the Magic's offense was fluid, finding good looks for much of the second quarter. However, a sloppy stretch, combined with a hot stretch from the Bulls, saw the Magic's lead shrink to as few as three with just under two minutes to go in the half. To their credit, the Magic took the Bulls' punch in full stride, finishing the quarter on a mini nine-to-four run. Their 63 first half points were the most points they've scored in a single half this season as well. Vucevic paced the way for the Magic, finishing the half with 16 points and six rebounds. Gasol's 12 and Rose's 11 led the way for Chicago.
Out of halftime, the Magic found a way to keep their energy level up on both ends of the floor. After a sloppy second quarter defensively, they locked down and forced the Bulls into tough possessions, with the offense continuing to look crisp as ever. After a few stagnant possessions allowed the Bulls to close the gap slightly, the Magic began to pick the pace back up, which, in turn, picked their offense back up. Vucevic and Oladipo combined for 23 in the quarter, with Vucevic finishing it off with a monstrous slam over Gasol. For the second straight game, Vucevic was set to finish with over 30 points, scoring 30 in the first three quarters. Despite being brutally murdered by the Vucevic dunk, Gasol led the way for Chicago with 22.
Holding a 15 point lead heading into the fourth quarter, it looked like the Magic would be able to notch a victory somewhat comfortably. That was not the case, of course, as the Bulls began to play with more energy than they had the entire game. Early in the quarter, the Magic were forced to go with their reserves, which proved to be costly, as the bulls began to cut their lead down slowly, but surely. With four of their five starters back in late, the Magic were able to get some big buckets, thanks to great play on the ball from Oladipo.
The Magic were led by Vucevic, who came just shy of tying his career high, finishing with 33 points and 11 rebounds for his 23rd double-double of the season. Oladipo joined Vucevic as the high scorer of the game, finishing with 33 of his own. Elfrid Payton did a little bit of everything, pushing the pace, scoring efficiently and passing the ball at a high rate, finishing with 10 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Chicago was carried for much of the night by Gasol, who finished with a team high 28 points and 14 rebounds. Derrick Rose, playing in his first game against the Magic since 2012, finished with 18, with backcourt mate Jimmy Butler finishing with a quiet 17. Reserves Aaron Brooks and Nikola Mirotic each finished in double figures, finishing with 12 and 11 respectively.