Orlando Magic Grades: Chicago Bulls hold off Orlando Magic after hot start

Nikola Vucevic and the Chicago Bulls dominated the Orlando Magic early and held on for the win. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Nikola Vucevic and the Chicago Bulls dominated the Orlando Magic early and held on for the win. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

24. 109. 38. Final. 128

After trailing by as much as 25 points, the Orlando Magic’s second unit crawled back to bring the game back to within five points with four minutes remaining in regulation.

A hot-shooting Chicago Bulls (22-16) team, however, would pull away and finish the game on a 17-3 run to give the Magic (19-30) their 30th loss on the season in a 128-109 victory Saturday night at the Amway Center.

The Orlando Magic were slow to get going in the first half and fell behind before a mad rally in the second half made the game interesting.

The Bulls had a 60-47 advantage heading into halftime and built their lead to 25 in the third quarter. With the hot hand of Moe Wagner, the Magic’s second unit went on a 28-9 run in a five-minute stretch to cut the lead down to eight at 98-90 with 10:22 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Magic head coach Jamahl Mosely rode with the second unit the entire fourth quarter, opting to keep his starters on the bench.

Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs along with Moe Wagner helped cut the deficit to five, but the Bulls answered in a major way. They closed the game on a run thanks to timely shots from DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams.

For the Magic, it was too little too late. The Bulls shot 59.3 percent from the floor and 16 for 35 from beyond the arc as they were never really disrupted offensively.

From the outset, Chicago’s three leading scorers came to play. All three had big first halves and closed out the game for the Bulls. Demar DeRozan and Zach Lavine each had a game-leading 32 points and Nikola Vucevic scored 26 points.

Orlando’s bench crew created some energy and that is what got the team back into the game. The team just was not able to sustain it or trust the starters to bring it after struggling for much of the game.

Player Grades

Moe Wagner — A

If Moe Wagner did not get hot late in the third quarter, the Orlando Magic would not have stood a chance. After scoring 11 in the third quarter, Wagner remained in the game and continued his hot shooting.

Wagner scored 16 straight points for Orlando in the second half, which tied for the fifth-most in team history– only four points fewer than Tracy McGrady and Terrence Ross’ team record. He finished with season-high 27 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field and 3 for 4 from three in 23 minutes.

Wagner showed his all-around game and provided a scoring punch for the Magic on a night they desperately needed it.

Cole Anthony — A

Cole Anthony especially had a big second half coming off the bench. He scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter.

Anthony hit some big shots to help the Magic get back into the game, including the three which got the Magic to within five. He was feeling it offensively and also had a well-rounded game with six assists and six rebounds.

Anthony struggled for a stretch but seems to be getting back his mojo. He knocked down three of five 3-point attempts against the Chicago Bulls, and he seems to have regained confidence in his outside shot.

Jalen Suggs — B+

Jalen Suggs, the Orlando Magic’s once highly-touted lottery pick, flashed some of his potential against the Chicago Bulls. Suggs played the most minutes since he came back from an ankle injury. In 26 minutes, he scored 11 points, dished out five assists, grabbed four boards and had one steal.

Jalen Suggs’ defense was pivotal against DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. Those two players have the size advantage, but Suggs played tight defense.

Offensively, Suggs had some instances when he showcased his ability to drive to the paint and score through contact. He knocked 2 of 4 three-pointers, even though a couple were rushed and early in the shot clock.

It will be interesting to see how Suggs builds off this game. Does coach Jamahl Mosley increase his minutes and let him loose going forward?

Jonathan Isaac — C+

Jonathan Isaac is a heck of a basketball player, who aids in winning games and made a name for himself in the league for his defense.

Saturday night, he came into the game and immediately gave the Magic a spark defensively. Jonathan Isaac did a fine job guarding Zach LaVine as well as DeMar DeRozan. He deflected a pass in the first quarter that lead to a steal and on the other end he finished the play with a putback dunk.

Offensively, however, as a whole, Isaac struggled from the field. With Alex Caruso guarding him, Jonathan Isaac settled for outside shots. Instead of posting up the smaller player, Isaac attempted three 3-pointers and missed all of them. He did, however, redeem himself in the second half, knocking down his only attempt.

In only eight minutes, Issac finished with five points, four rebounds and one steal. He is still on a heavy minutes restriction. But it is refreshing that he is the first man off the bench.

After three games back, Isaac is still searching for that first block. His shot-blocking is one of the skills that made him so special as a player. He came close in the third quarter when he attempted to block Caruso on a layup, but he was late and fouled him.

The blocks will come, but Isaac still has great lateral quickness for his size.

Chicago Bulls — A

The Chicago Bulls started the game moving the ball at will until Zach LaVine and then DeMar DeRozan took over the game. But still, in the final minutes of the game, the Bulls trusted the pass and found Patrick Williams for two big, fourth-quarter threes.

The Bulls gave the ball to the hot hand in DeRozan, who was 11 for 14 from the field and 5 for 5 from three. Vucevic and LaVine also shot 11 for 18 from the field. With all three of those players playing at the level they played and Williams chipping in with 16 points, the Bulls can compete with any team in the league.

Next. Turnovers are the last hurdle for the Orlando Magic. dark

Up next, the Orlando Magic will travel to the City of Brotherly Love and face the Philadelphia 76ers at 7 p.m. Monday at the Wells Fargo Center.