Chicago Bulls @ Orlando Magic


The Orlando Magic got back on the right track with an easy 103-85 victory over the Washington Wizards Wednesday night to improve to 5-2. It won’t be that easy Friday night. They’ll see their biggest challenge since opening night when they host the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls have won five in a row after a 99-83 win over the Detroit Pitons improved their record to 6-1.

The Magic enter the game ranked sixth in offensive efficiency (104.5) and ninth in defensive efficiency (97.5). The Bulls are ninth in offensive efficiency (103.1) and third in defense (92.7).

Tip-off from the the Amway Center is scheduled for 8:00 pm EST. The game will be shown locally on Sun Sports and 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.

The officials for tonight’s game are Ken Mauer, John Goble and Derek Richardson.

The Line: Orlando – 1.0 (182u)


Chicago Bulls

Joakim Noah
Carlos Boozer
Luol Deng
Ronnie Brewer*
Derrick Rose

Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
Ryan Anderson
Hedo Turkoglu
Jason Richardson
Jameer Nelson

*As reported earlier, Richard Hamilton is unlikely to play.

Reigning MVP Derrick Rose bruised his elbow in Wednesday’s win over the Pistons but hopes to play Friday. Obviously, if Rose can’t go that changes everything. Last season, the Bulls had a lot of trouble finding reliable scoring outside of Rose, who put up 25.0 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game last year, is scoring 20.9 points, dishing out 8.6 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game this season. Rose is shooting the ball the less – his 15.0 attempts per game are down from 19.7 from last year. His shooting percentages have been basically the same – he shot 44.5% from the field last year and is shooting 44.8% this season. He shot 33.2% from beyond the arc last year and is shooting 31.8% this season. As great as Rose is, I’m sure he still wants and expects those numbers to improve.

If Rose is healthy, Jameer Nelson could be in for a long night. The best thing Nelson can do is play smart and make Rose work on the defensive end.

Luol Deng has had a couple of underappreciated seasons. We have seen his scoring improve and his excellent defense get even better. Deng isn’t off to a great start this year, scoring just 15.4 points per game on 44.4% shooting from the field and just 23.8% from beyond the arc.

Deng and Turkoglu will be an interesting matchup to watch. The Bulls have to love Deng as a stopper on defense, but they need him to score on offense, especially against a team like Orlando, who has for the most part, been good on offense this season. When Turkoglu’s on, he gets the entire team involved, which is when Orlando is at their best.

The Bulls hope Carlos Boozer can look a little more like the player he was in Utah than the player he was in Chicago last season and the early parts of this season, but I’m not sure he has shown signs of being anything different than he was last year – he’s 30-years old now. Richard Hamilton was brought in to knock down shots when the defense collapses and take some of the pressure off of Rose. He’s not shooting well from beyond the arc (28.6%) so far but his 12.4 points from what the offensively inept Keith Bogans gave them as the starting shooting guard last season.

Although Dwight Howard has had monster games against Chicago in the past, which includes putting up 24.3 points on 67.5% shooting from the field, 12.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game in three games against the Bulls last season, the Bulls have a lot of bigs to throw at Howard. Obviously, Boozer doesn’t have the size to bang with Howard, but Joakim Noah, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson can at least give him some sort of resistance.

Aside from Howard, rebounding has been a bit of a problem for the Magic. Ryan Anderson is averaging 7.4 boards per game and will need to continue to put up numbers like that. Back on April 10 with Howard serving a suspension, Anderson scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against the Bulls in a 102-99 loss.

This is a measuring stick game for Orlando. They are healthy, they didn’t have to travel and didn’t play Thursday. There are no excuses, so we could find out a lot about the Magic Friday night.

Bulls Resources:

Bulls By The Horns Blog
Chicago Bulls Confidential
Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Tribune
Da Bulls Eye
ESPN Chicago
Pippen Ain’t Easy

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider ( and is the co-host of the Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)