Orlando Magic Grades: Orlando Magic 123, Chicago Bulls 119

Cole Anthony was energetic as he led the Orlando Magic offense and helped them to a win. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Cole Anthony was energetic as he led the Orlando Magic offense and helped them to a win. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

38. Final. 119. 24. 123

There was a sense of calm as Nikola Vucevic stepped to the foul line with three seconds to play.

The Orlando Magic had lost a double-digit lead and were holding as Zach LaVine put an assault on their interior defense, trying desperately to steal the win back.

This was Nikola Vucevic though. Everything he was doing in this game was calm, composed and aggressive. He saw everything and attacked every hole in the defense. The Chicago Bulls never had any answers.

Vucevic drained those two clinching free throws to set a career-high mark of 43 points and give the Magic the little breathing room they needed to hold the Bulls off for a 123-119 victory, snapping a four-game losing streak in the process.

Nikola Vucevic scored a career-high 43 points to help lead the Orlando Magic to a much-needed victory over the Chicago Bulls, ending a four-game losing streak.

The team had to hold on after building a double-digit lead in the third quarter and seemingly coasting to the end. LaVine had 24 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter. He started playing more aggressively, attacking the basket. The lead got tighter.

The Bulls did tie it with about two minutes to play when Evan Fournier hit a jumper that gave the Magic the lead for good. But it was a sweat fest the rest of the way.

Coby White and Patrick Williams both missed point-blank layups with chances to tie the game. And Coby White and Garrett Temple also missed 3-pointers with chances to tie the game late.

Evan Fournier added to the anxiety turning the ball over with a risky cross-court pass and then nearly turning it over twice as the Bulls tried to trap and in the backcourt and near the corners. The Magic certainly did not have an easy path to victory.

But ultimately it came through Vucevic. He had everything working from the very start of the game with 15 first-quarter points. The Magic played with renewed energy and spirit, showing intensity and a commitment to the gameplan throughout the entire game.

Orlando started on the front foot a never really gave up the lead in the course of the game. Fournier had important moments throughout the game to give the Magic some much-needed breathing room.

And for a team that is just searching for a win wherever they can get it, they will take any one they can get.

A+. . C. Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC

What didn’t Nikola Vucevic do in this game? He worked the pick-and-pop game early as Cole Anthony drew the defense into the paint and with him. He dived into the paint and posted up Daniel Gafford, abusing him or whomever the Chicago Bulls tried to defend him with. Vucevic was on his mark and playing aggressively. Even when the doubles came, he whipped the ball to the opposite corner, taking advantage of every mistake the Bulls could make.

Vucevic scored a career-high 43 points and added four assists. He made 17 of 29 shots and four of his 10 3-pointers. There was not a thing he did not do effectively offensively. He even added 19 rebounds, grabbing a big one in traffic that helped Orlando get a two-possession lead at the foul line later. Vucevic is the thing everything on this offense orbits.

Orlando Magic. EVAN FOURNIER. B. . G/F

For three quarters, it was hard to dislike anything that Evan Fournier did. He was coming around screens and shooting effectively, but not driving wildly or throwing up forced or rushed flip shots. He was hitting from the outside on ball reversals and attacking the rotating defense as they closed out on him. He scored 20 points on 6-for-13 shooting, adding four assists for good measure.

The fourth quarter will not go down as one of his best. The close-game shotmaking was there as he hit one big shot. But his decision-making on the ball was certainly very poor. And after doing a good job tracking Zach LaVine throughout the game, he got caught jumping at some of his fakes in LaVine’s 24-point quarter. Fournier did his best to keep up but even Fournier knew his good defense through three quarters came because LaVine was not playing aggressively yet.

A-. . PG. Orlando Magic. COLE ANTHONY

No player looked more refreshed by a few days without games and a practice to settle down than rookie Cole Anthony. He had a lot of bounce in his step and was also aggressive, attacking the Chicago Bulls’ defense and finding space to get into the lane and to the basket, all while not forcing too much.

Cole Anthony had the pick-and-pop game working effectively with Nikola Vucevic throughout the game. That is where the bulk of his nine assists came from. But Anthony was also looking to push the ball up court and pass ahead better than he has throughout his short time starting. He finished with 17 points too, making six of 10 from the floor. It was a solid game from the rookie.

FRANK MASON. B. . PG. Orlando Magic

Frank Mason certainly seemed to provide some stability to the Orlando Magic’s offensive attack. He had better command over running the team and getting them into their sets and with their pace than the previous replacements. That did not mean the Magic were completely effective, but they at least had a chance.

Frank Mason though definitely has his shortcomings. He struggled to finish at the rim and got clipped with a few early fouls. He can be excused for running into Terrence Ross on one set too after he just checked in. But Frank Mason had good chemistry with Khem Birch early, finding him on a few rolls to the rim. He finished with four points and four assists in 16 minutes.

B-. . 8-13. 12th East. CHICAGO BULLS

The Chicago Bulls got off to a slow start against the New York Knicks on Wednesday and generally looked lethargic and disinterested. They were climbing uphill the whole game, trailing by 12-15 points for much of it before a late rally made things interesting. They surely wanted a faster start in this one. Instead, the Chicago Bulls made many of the same mistakes and their defense was loose and giving the Orlando Magic all the opportunities to get good shots.

Chicago had some solid performances and kept pace. Orlando never put the team away. The door was always slightly open when LaVine started to heat up and get cooking. That nearly gave the Bulls a chance to steal the game. But Chicago, who allowed Orlando to shoot 51.9-percent and 11 for 27 from deep, never got its defense right. It was always an uphill climb and the Magic were always the leader.

Next. Orlando Magic can't try to do too much to get out of rut. dark

The Magic are now 9-14 and 11th in the Eastern Conference. They return to the Amway Center floor for a rematch with the Bulls on Saturday.