Magic Blast Bulls 111-82

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Just like they did on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Magic dominated the Chicago Bulls from the get-go. The Magic had their way wiith the Bulls throughout the game and had a 32-point lead by halftime. Orlando’s starters got a lot of rest in the second half as the Magic backups helped them cruise to a 111-82 victory. Vince Carter led the Magic with 23 points while rookie James Johnson scored 13 for the Bulls. It was Orlando’s seventh consecutive victory and Chicago’s sixth consecutive loss.

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The Orlando Magic are finally learning how to put teams away. Sure, Chicago, with all of their injuries , is a very weak team right now and Tuesday’s victim, the Los Angeles Clippers, are from world beaters, but with all of the struggles the Magic have had holding big leads, this is a good sign. At on point in the third quarter, Orlando looked like they could be back to their old ways, allowing the Bulls to get back within 19, but the Magic ended the third quarter on a 10-1 run to go back up 79-51.

Of course, Derrick Rose’s first quarter injury in his collision with Dwight Howard (the second time this season a Rose-Howard collision has forced Rose out of a game) did help Orlando’s cause. Rose left with a wrist injury and did not return.

It’s pretty easy to see why Orlando won this game. They shot an effective field goal percentage of 61.5% compared to Chicago’s 42.1%, their free throw rate was 47.8%, they dominated the glass 46-29, and their efficiency was 116.8.

It’s really hard to pick out a player who did not play well for the Magic. Most of the players didn’t put up big numbers but they didn’t have to and in several cases, they didn’t get enough minutes to put up numbers like that up anyway.

Matt Barnes got the Magic off to a quick start by scoring 11 first quarter points and going 2-of-2 from beyond the arc. Barnes finished with 14 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.

After that, Vince Carter picked things up. Carter scored 16 points in the second quarter in helping the Magic to build a 32-point halftime lead. He finished with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting in just 26 minutes. Carter scored in a variety of ways. He drove to the basket, he hit mid range jumpers, and he hit a couple of three-pointers. To make Carter’s numbers look even more impressive, Carter had an effective field goal percentage of 69% and his true shooting percentage was 74%.

A game after playing more than 32 straight minutes without a rest, Dwight Howard played just 20 minutes on Thursday night. Howard got into some foul trouble and really didn’t need minutes in the second half (he played 4 minutes in the second half). Howard had 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting, grabbed 6 rebounds and blocked 2 shots, including a huge rejection of a Taj Gibson shot in the first half. Howard did however have some struggles and free throw shooting (4-of-6 from the charity stripe) wasn’t one of them. Aside from Howard’s 4 fouls, he turned the ball over 5 times. The other day, Howard told reporters that turnovers were going to happen because of the amount of double teams he recieves, but 5 is a number he must cut down.

Jason Williams was impressive. He hit two three-pointers and wound up with 8 points and 4 assists. Half of those assists were highlight-worthy plays – an alley-oop to Howard and one to Howard’s backup, Marcin Gortat. Gortat played 24 minutes and made the most of his time, scoring 7 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking 2 shots.

Brandon Bass continued to get more minutes and he continued to make those most of them. Bass scored 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting and grabbed 8 rebounds, blocked 2 shots and turned the ball over twice. That’s a very effective game from Bass. One of the main reasons Bass has been successful recently, aside from playing time, has been his energy – he has come out and given a great effort and shown great hustle in the last few games. He is working much harder on the glass and his defense looks much better than it did early in the season.

Speaking of hustle, the Magic really showed great hustle Thursday night. Carter’s critics have questioned his heart and desire, but in the second quarter, Carter may have quieted those doubters a little bit. He, along with Bass, dove to the floor for a loose ball in the second quarter with the Magic leading by 20 and forced a jump ball. The Magic also kept playing hard late. Marcin Gortat rushed down the court and rejected a shot with the Magic up by 32 with only 36 seconds left. If the Magic continue to give that kind of effort throughout the game, you won’t see too many blown leads and you won’t see too many losses.

Game Notes:

  • Orlando is still having turnover issues. They gave the ball away 21 times on Tuesday night.
  • Orlando had five players with at least 11 points. Chicago’s leading scorer scored 13 points.
  • Only two Bulls starters, James Johnson and Taj Gibson, scored in double figures. Both are rookies.
  • Flip Murray has now scored 45 points against the Magic this season but 31 of them came in one game.
  • Rashard Lewis did not make a three-pointer and scored just 6 points while grabbbing 6 rebounds.
  • Orlando’s bench scored 47 points. Chicago’s bench provided 46.

Next Up: The Magic travel to Washington to play the Wizards on Saturday night. The Magic are 0-2 against the Wizards this season.

Final Thought: The Magic played another overmatched team and blew them out like they should.

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