Orlando Magic @ Chicago Bulls


The Orlando Magic look to win their third consecutive game, win for the seventh time in eight games and for the 10th time in 12 games when they square off with the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.. The Magic are coming off a 123-117 come-from-behind victory over the New Orleans Hornets. In the game, Vince Carter put on one of the all-time great performances in Orlando Magic history. He scored 48 points on 19-of-27 shooting. The Bulls won nine of 11 before dropping three in a row, but they have rebounded by beating the Miami Heat on Saturday and the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.

The Orlando Magic have the second best record in the eastern conference (35-17) and are six-and-a-half games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers (who they play Thursday night). The Bulls looked like they were on their way to the lottery and Head Coach Vinny Del Negro had one foot out the door but the Bulls are now 25-25, are currently tied for sixth in the east and are just 2.5 games behind Toronto for the fifth spot. The Bulls are on pace finish somewhere between five and eight while the Magic will likely be the second or third seed so this is a potential playoff preview. The Bulls have been a solid home team – they’re 15-8 at the United Center. Orlando is 15-12 away from Amway Arena.

The two teams have met once this season with the Bulls winning 101-93 in Chicago back on January 2nd.

Tip-off from the United Center in Chicago is scheduled for 8:00 pm EST and you can see the game on Sun Sports. As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen to it locally on WDBO AM 580 and in Spanish on WONQ AM 1030.

The Line: Orlando – 4



Dwight Howard
Rashard Lewis
Matt Barnes
Vince Carter
Jameer Nelson


Brad Miller
Taj Gibson
Luol Deng
Kirk Hinrich
Derrick Rose

The Bulls upset the Magic back on January 2nd led by 30 points from Derrick Rose. The Bulls played great defense n the game, holding the Magic to 35.9% shooting from the field while the Magic hurt their own cause by going just 13-of-20 from the free throw line. Matt Barnes had 23 points to lead the Magic. Dwight Howard was held to just nine points on 3-of-7 shooting even though starting Center Joakim Noah was limited to just 18 minutes. Ryan Anderson had 12 points and nine rebounds off of the bench. A J.J. Redick three-pointer cut Chicago’s lead to 96-93 with 24 seconds left but Chicago hit their free throws and the Magic missed three straight three-pointers on one possession.

Bulls Center Joakim Noah, who is the midst of the best season of his career, averaging 11.2 points per game, 12.0 rebounds per game and 1.7 blocks per game, remains out with plantar fasciitis and veteran Center Brad Miller will start in his place. Noah has missed the last two games. Miller has averaged 13 points and 6.5 rebounds in those two games, both Chicago victories.

There have been a lot of rumors about Tyrus Thomas’ situation and Del Negro addressed his situation after Tuesday’s win over Indiana.

"“Tyrus and John (Salmons) normally come in about the five or six minute mark in the first quarter,” Del Negro said. “That won’t change.”Del Negro said Richard would spell Brad Miller in short stretches depending on matchups.Thomas didn’t show much reaction when informed of Del Negro’s plans.“I’m ready to play hard,” he said."

It will be interesting to watch the bench matchups since a potential trade involving John Salmons and J.J. Redick was discussed earlier in the season.

The Bulls have been a good defensive team. They give up 97.7 points per game and rank seventh in the league in defensive efficiency but the Bulls do have trouble scoring. They put up just 95.4 points per game and are the second least efficient offense in basketball. Only New Jersey has been worse.

Orlando had trouble stopping the Bulls in the first meeting but the Magic are playing much better on the defensive end. Sure, they had a bad game against New Orleans, but Orlando was coming off the second day of a back-to-back and had to play at Boston against the most physical team in the NBA the day before. Boston beats teams up and the Magic couldn’t match New Orleans’ energy. Luckily for the Magic, Vince Carter saved the day.

Orlando is now the league’s second most efficient defense but the Magic will still have trouble defending Derrick Rose – point guards have given them trouble all season and that was the case once again on Monday night when Darren Collison torched them for 27 points.

Orlando’s offense has struggled at times this season and it could be hard to find some success against Chicago’s defense. The Magic need to continue to be aggressive and get to the basket. Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson have done a good job of this as of late. Both have been better playmakers for their teammates – Nelson dished out 10 assists Monday night.

Dwight Howard should be able to dominate the paint on both ends of the court without much of a problem.
Vince Carter also may have a favorable matchup. It’d be nice to see Carter put up a third consecutive shooting night of over 50%.

Orlando will once again be wearing their “Hardwood Classics” pinstriped jerseys. They are 4-1 in those jerseys so far this season. They will also wear them against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.

For more on the Bulls, check out these sites:

Pippen Aint Easy

Blog a Bull

Bulls By the Horns

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)