Magic Rally Isn’t Enough To Top Bulls


After an exciting first quarter in which the Magic held a 27-26 lead, the Chicago Bulls took control, building a double-digit lead. They pushed the lead to as large as 17 in the third quarter before the Magic hit three straight three-pointers, eventually cutting the lead to six before Chicago, sparked by a three-point play by Derrick Rose, pushed it back to 11 at the end of the third quarter. Orlando stormed back in the final quarter, cutting the lead back down to as little as three, but the Bulls ended the game on a 17-6 run, winning 97-83.

Dwight Howard led the Magic with 28 points and 15 rebounds while Luol Deng scored 21 points for the Bulls. Derrick Rose narrowly missed a triple double, finishing with 21 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds.

“Quite simply, we’re not on that level right now,” Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters after the game.

“This was an ass-kicking,” Van Gundy added.

  • Orlando did get back into the game and gave a good effort to do so, but they had so many chances to make the game even closer and potentially come out with a big win and just couldn’t get it done. The Bulls took a lot of bad shots and started getting sloppy in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the Magic, they topped the Bulls in those categories. Despite those missed shots from Chicago, they piled up offensive rebounds, stopping the Magic from racing down to the other end and getting easy baskets. Chicago’s ability to keep possessions alive on the offensive glass was the difference in the game.
  • Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and the players echoed this sentiment after the game. “The biggest issues were the offensive rebounds and the loose balls,” Van Gundy explained.
  • The Bulls outrebounded the Magic 46-37 and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds, usually coming when they Magic were in the midst of a run or poised to make one.
  • Turnovers were another issue – the Magic gave the ball away 18 times, leading to 14 Chicago points. On two separate occasions, Jason Richardson couldn’t handle passes intended for him. He attempted to save both, but one went out-of-bounds and the other created a fast break opportunity for the Bulls.
  • When John Lucas III is consistently beating Chris Duhon, who’s supposed to a defensive minded player, something is very wrong. That just can’t happen. Duhon wasn’t completely awful because he did an okay job of moving the ball, but you need more from your backup point guard.
  • Dwight Howard had another big game, putting up 28 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks. He probably could have had a bigger game but the Magic had trouble making entry passes to Howard.
  • Jameer Nelson continues to struggle, scoring nine points on 3-of-9 shooting. He also turned the ball over three times.
  • Despite scoring 17 points, Jason Richardson still isn’t anywhere near where the Magic need him to be. He had four more turnovers and probably could have been credited with a few more.
  • Ryan Anderson had his worst game of the season, scoring five points on 2-of-10 shooting and grabbing just three rebounds in just under 25 minutes of play. In his post-game presser, Van Gundy let Anderson have it, criticizing Anderson’s rebounding and defensive rotations, saying he can’t just base his game completely on his shooting. He continuously said Anderson “didn’t get in the battle.” Afterwards, Anderson was visibly upset and had a lengthy chat with Howard in the locker room. Anderson wanted to know what Howard expects from him and wanted to see where Howard’s head is. Howard told Anderson he expects a lot from him, which Anderson took as a compliment.
  • Glen Davis continued to struggle from the field (8 points on 2-of-8 shooting), but he did a good job on the boards (10) and screened better. He also did a better job of moving the ball around, but still looks uncomfortable with the Magic.
  • Derrick Rose took some bad shots and looked a little off after the first quarter, yet still nearly finished with a triple double.
  • In case you were unaware, Luol Deng is a really good basketball player. He’s a good scorer and an excellent defender. He’s certainly one of the more underrated and underappreciated players in the league.

Next Up: The Magic will kick off their west coast road trip at Sacramento against the Kings Sunday.

Final Thought: Tough to disagree with Van Gundy’s assessment. The Magic just aren’t there yet.

(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)