Chicago Bulls @ Orlando Magic


After rallying from a 24-point deficit to defeat the Miami Heat Thursday night, the Orlando Magic will be right back in action Friday when they host the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls lost to the Atlanta Hawks 83-80 Wednesday night despite the Hawks spotting the Bulls a 14-0 lead to start the game. The loss dropped Chicago to 41-18 and they’re now just 2.5 games up on the Orlando Magic for the third seed. However, they are four games up in the loss column so if the Magic plan on moving up, they can’t afford to drop a game to the Bulls. Orlando’s victory over Miami also brought them within 3.5 games of the Heat in the Southeast division.

These two teams have met twice this year with both games being played in Chicago. The Bulls were blown out by the Magic 107-78 back on December 1 behind Jameer Nelson’s 24 points and nine assists. The Bulls returned the favor with a 99-90 victory on January 28. Luol Deng had 26 points to lead the Bulls while Dwight Howard erupted for 40 points 15 rebounds, four steals, three blocks and two assists for the Magic.

The Bulls rank 20th in pace (91.1), 16th in offensive rating (106.7) and second in defensive rating (100.2)

The game will be shown nationally on ESPN. As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen on the radio – in English on AM 580 WDBO and in Spanish on AM 1270 WRLZ.

Tip off from the Amway Center is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST.

The Line: Orlando – 1.5, 188.5u


Chicago Bulls

Joakim Noah
Carlos Boozer
Luol Deng
Keith Bogans
Derrick Rose

Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
Brandon Bass
Hedo Tukoglu
Jason Richardson
Jameer Nelson

Gilbert Arenas (sore left knee) scored 11 points against the Heat Thursday.

The officials will be Ed Malloy, John Goble and James Williams.

Opponent To Watch: Joakim Noah, C – The former Florida big man missed 30 games this season but is back playing at a high level. He’s averaged 13.5 points, 11.9 rebounds and and 1.5 blocks per game this season. He missed the Bulls last game against Orlando and despite the Bulls earning a victory, they allowed Dwight Howard to score 40 points. With the tear Howard has been on, Noah has a tall task ahead of him. Noah scored 16 points but did not grab a rebound in his only game against Howard and the Magic this season.

What To Watch For: The Magic are putting together an impressive run. They have now defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks and Miami Heat in the last three weeks. The Magic can add another impressive win to their resume if they beat the 41-18 Bulls Friday night. The Magic could have tired legs after a big, emotional win like they had Thursday night but the game could be the spark they needed to finish the season like they did a year ago (They won 19 of their last 22 last season and have currently won six out of seven). To earn a victory, the Magic have do a decent job of guarding Luol Deng – wings have torched Orlando’s perimeter defense this year. They also need to turn Derrick Rose into a jump shooter. He’s improved his shooting percentage this season but he’s still at his best when he’s getting to the basket.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and ESPN 1080’s Magic Insider ( Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).