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The Orlando Magic (29-18) suffered one of their worst losses of the season on Monday night, as the league’s best team record-wise, the Chicago Bulls (38-10), handed them a disappointing 85-59 home loss despite the absence of reigning MVP Derrick Rose. Rose sat out his fourth straight contest with a groin injury that he suffered last week.
“Tonight, they sent a team out there that played without their star player and did what they needed to do to win the ballgame,” said Magic reserve Glen Davis. “And they beat us. They beat us with no problem. I wish they would have had Derrick Rose, in a sense.”
Oddly enough, the Magic defeated the Bulls in Chicago with Rose on the floor on March 8, 99-94. But playing their third game in four nights and a back-to-back after falling short in Miami last night may have had the Magic players overly fatigued coming into this matchup with Chicago 11 days later.
Carlos Boozer led the way for the Bulls with a 24 point, 13 rebound effort. Backup guard John Lucas 20 point game, which consisted of nine points in both the first and fourth quarters, was a solid compliment. Dwight Howard was the high scorer on the night for the Magic with 18 points. He also pulled down 12 rebounds.
Ryan Anderson’s 10 points made him the only other Magic player in double figures. Howard shot 8/12 from the field, but the Bulls – who are second in the league in points, allowed with just 89.3 per game – did an excellent job of ball denial on him with Boozer, Joakim Noah, and Omer Asik.
Orlando was also unable to score 20 points in any quarter last night, and has actually failed to do so over their last six quarters of action. The Bulls converted 19 Orlando turnovers into 25 points, and held the Magic to just 35.3% shooting.
“Our offense was pathetic,” said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. “And that’s something that I’ve got to take a look at because we’ve got better players than that. I’ve got to take a look at what we’re doing because it’s really two games in a row now where we’ve been very, very bad offensively.”
With the score 22-14 in favor of Chicago at the completion of the opening quarter, it was still a single digit ball game. However, after the Bulls outscored the Magic 26-19 in the second, they had extended their halftime lead to a comfortable 15, 48-33. Both teams struggled mightily in the third quarter, as they combined for just 27 points. The Magic were able to outscore their opponent by three and cut the deficit to 60-48 entering the fourth quarter.
The Bulls were not by any means extraordinary scoring the ball in the final period. They put up 25, but the fact that they only gave up 11 is what allowed them to cruise toward their fifth win in six games.
The win was Chicago’s third during the current four game stretch without Rose. He’s missed 14 overall due to back issues that he fought earlier in the season, but that hasn’t prevented the Bulls and their smothering defense from going 10-4 during those games.
For the Magic, it was their third loss in their last four games. Van Gundy did not shy away from taking the blame for his team’s recent struggles.
“When you play the way we played tonight, this is a team-wide thing,” said Van Gundy. “I’ve got to take responsibility.”
The Bulls will make their way up to Toronto on Wednesday for a game against the Raptors, while the Magic will play host to the Phoenix Suns that same night.
Image Courtesy of Chicago Bulls