John Raoux/Associated Press/The Washington Post
The Magic's 128-125 triple overtime loss is going to go down as one of the most exciting games of the 2013-14 campaign. In fact, it will be pretty hard to find any game that could top that one for its drama and back-and-forth play. We are all still trying to catch our breaths a little bit (and maybe a little sleep).
There were some truly gargantuan efforts made in the game. Victor Oladipo played 57 minutes, becoming the first rookie to play that many minutes in a game since 1954. And Oladipo had a career-high 35 points in that game, scoring 33 in regulation for those poo-pooing stats in a triple overtime game.
That was not even the biggest effort. Jimmy Butler played a Bulls franchise-high 60 minutes in the game and looked every bit of it as he sat on the floor with ice packs taped to his knee postgame. He did what his coach asked him to do and a whole lot more. So did everyone else on the Bulls. That is why Joakim Noah was in such a jovial mood and talking about cake.
Excuse me for a bit of self-promotion, but I had the opportunity to cover the game for CSN Chicago (thus no podcast and a late recap post). The Bulls locker room was one of relief after surviving that game and willing themselves to victory. Even though Jameer Nelson and Victor Oladipo dominated the game with their driving ability, the Bulls made the stops when it mattered. That is just who this Bulls team is.
They simply were able to stop the two when the game mattered most and got tightest. Chicago simply found a way.
“We’re grimy, and we play as a team,” Butler said. “There is no guy that doesn’t give all the effort on every single play. Whenever you play like that, good things happen. The basketball gods will reward you.”
It certainly was not all rosy (ha! a pun).
A struggling Magic offense had no problems cracking the usually stout Bulls defense. It was shocking to see Orlando shooting 51 percent and getting points at will off of Jameer Nelson and Victor Oladipo drives. Chicago though closed the defense down and stopped the leak in time to get back from a 15-point deficit and hold Orlando down time and time again in the overtime periods.
That leaves Chicago still adjusting on the fly and trying to stick to their principals as the team grows and adjusts together. The Bulls are still winning and still finding ways to grind out wins as ever. But Chicago’s 128-125 triple overtime win over Orlando showed a few more cracks that need some refining, particularly on the defensive end.
“I think we’ve shown we’re capable of being a terrific defensive team. Obviously, we didn’t play very well defensively. To me, the challenge is to correct that before it costs us. We had good fortune. Right now, we’re not playing 48 minutes of defense. Especially on the road, that’s tough. We have to come out at the start of the game and set the tone with our defense.”
That feels like it only adds to the frustration for the Magic, who are in desperate need of a win.
The good news is the next game is right around the corner — Friday night against the Bobcats. Be sure to check out the great Bulls coverage on CSN Chicago throughout the season.