The Nikola Vucevic homecoming game quickly became the Wendell Carter Jr. revenge game.
While Carter Jr. may have won the statistical battle between two players who were traded for one another, it was Vucevic’s Bulls who easily won the game with a 123-88 rout of the Magic.
The evening began with a tribute video welcoming Vucevic back to Orlando for the first time since being traded at the deadline last season and thanking him for his nine seasons with the Magic....
But it was Carter Jr. who did a little of everything in the first quarter against his former team, scoring from deep, out of the pick-and-roll and by driving to the basket and throwing down an emphatic one-handed dunk...
He had 12 points, five rebounds and two blocks in the first, shooting 4-for-7 from the field, including 2 of 3 from deep while playing the entire quarter. Vooch was quiet with two points on 1-for-2 shooting.
The Magic had zero turnovers in the quarter and assisted on 8 of 11 made field goals while shooting 45 percent. The two teams were tied at 27 after one.
The Bulls opened the second quarter on 16-0 run, capped after three consecutive Magic turnovers led to a Coby White three that gave Chicago a 43-27 lead.
Franz Wagner, who spent some time at the point, ended the four-minute Magic scoring drought with a layup. Jalen Suggs followed with nine straight points for the Magic to cut the deficit to 47-38. Carter Jr. closed the quarter strong with a pair of putbacks to help the Magic go into the break trailing just 55-46 even after shooting 35 percent in the quarter with six turnovers.
Carter finished the half with 18 points and nine rebounds. Outside of seeing whether Carter Jr. would surpass his career high of 28 points, there wasn’t much to see in the second half for the Magic.
The Bulls’ lead quickly grew, reaching as many as 24 after Vucevic scored seven points late in the quarter. A Vooch three gave the Bulls their largest lead to that point at 90-66. The Bulls shot over 60 percent in the quarter, making 6 of 11 three-point attempts, to outscore the Magic 35-23 in the quarter.
The Magic were held to just three points over the first 7:25 of the fourth quarter as the Bulls’ lead nearly reached 40 points.
Vucevic finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, shooting 7-for-13 from the field as his family sat courtside.
DeMar DeRozan had 23 points and Zach LaVine added 21 to lead the Bulls, who shot 55 percent overall and 17 of 34 from deep. Coby White added 20 points, shooting 9 of 11 from the field.
Carter Jr. had a season-high 26 points, falling two shy of a career high, and 10 rebounds. Franz Wagner had 15 points and Suggs added 14. The Magic shot just 37.5 percent in the loss, going 7 for 32 from three (21 percent).
It was the fifth straight loss for Orlando, which fell to 1-8 at home this season. The Magic play seven of their next eight games on the road, beginning with the Cavaliers tomorrow night in Cleveland.