The Bulls had their way with every Magic player not named Dwight Howard for a 99-90 win at the UC.
The Bulls (32-14) took pretty strong holds on Friday's game at the United Center to beat the Magic (30-17) 99-90, despite a monster performance by the best center in the game, Dwight Howard (40 points, 15 rebounds, four steals, three blocks).
The problem for the Magic was only one other player scoring in double figures (Gilbert Arenas with 11 points) and the Bulls holding them to only 41.1% shooting, despite Howard's 14-for-20 from the field.
- The Bulls took over the game like elite teams do -- by dominating the third quarter. Down 51-46 at halftime, the Bulls busted out of the gates with a 34-17 third quarter to create a lead too big for the Magic to overcome. The Magic held the Bulls to only 19 in the fourth, but could only score 22 themselves.
- Saying the Bulls "held them" is tricky, though, as the pick n' roll defense was pretty atrocious. But the traps were good enough and Orlando was straight-up brick-tastic. Their shooting 37.3% on threes this season with by far the highest volume, yet Friday they only shot 5-for-21 on threes (23.9%).
- What worked for the Bulls most was the rebounding. The game was full of bricks with the Bulls also only shooting 42.6% (37-for-87), but the extra shots were from their 16 offensive rebounds extending possessions. It was a game of hustling for loose balls and the Bulls out-rebounded Orlando 54-40 on the night, led by Carlos Boozer's 16 to go with 16 points on a bad shooting night for him (8-for-17).
The Bulls grabbing offensive rebounds at a 32.7% rate was highly impressive in the fast 94-possession game. As you can see, Hedo Turkolgu wasn't much help on the boards:
- Threes are getting good for the Bulls. They shot 8-for-18, so their eFG% was .471 on the night. Howard's paint play, periodic sluggishness from Derrick Rose, and Boozer not being so aggressive had the Bulls going an ugly 10-for-26 on long twos.
- Rose played strong, despite two stomach ulcers. He was noticeably fatigued from not having solid food for days, but pushed himself to attack hard and often. He only went 2-for-7 at the rim, though, to go with shooting only 2-for-6 on long twos and 2-for-6 on threes. He got to the line, as he has been recently, to shoot a perfect 8-for-8 on FTs and finish with 22 points on 6-for-21 shooting and 12 assists in 38 minutes. He looked like this a lot:
- Luol Deng was the stud scorer for the Bulls, coming through when Boozer was double-teamed hard and Rose clearly could only move the ball toward the basket, but not finish. Deng finished with a team-high 26 points on 9-for-16 shooting -- 2-for-4 on threes -- and eight rebounds in 38 minutes. He continues to be a horse and great for him to get out the shooting funk he's been stuck in over the past couple of weeks.
- Taj Gibson was a hustle machine. Only seven points, but on 3-for-4 shooting in only 17 minutes. His five rebounds ignited strong possessions for the Bulls in transition off the bench.
- Ronnie Brewer continued to be Ronnie Brewer and fun as always. He finished with nine points on 4-for-7 shooting with six rebounds an a steal off the bench. No one on the Bulls attacks on defense like him or works the baseline to create easy buckets.
- Kurt Thomas was a Foul Machine, but thankfully, there was Omer Asik. Howard was a beast that was undefendable, but Omer was without the best the best at doing so. Thomas couldn't stay out of foul trouble in the second half, picking up his third and fourth in the open minute of the third quarter and finish with five in the game.
- C.J. Watson was terrible all over. Bad C.J. showed up and Arenas outplayed him on every pick n' roll. C.J. was equally awful on the other end, laying a goose egg on 0-for-5 shooting, to go with maybe the dumbest turnover of the night for either team.
- Kyle Korver had a little stretch, but disappeared. He nailed a couple of threes -- 2-for-4 -- but struggled to create and finished with seven points on 2-for-7 shooting.
- Keith Bogans provided some good bailouts in the first quarter. That's what he's being paid to do -- shut down the wings on defense and nail open threes on offense. He finished with eight points on 3-for-4 shooting -- 2-for-3 on threes -- in 16 minutes.
Rare is it to see a Bulls-Magic game is fun to watch because Orlando's great at blowing the Bulls out. This was good and will be better with Joakim Noah. There's no question the Bulls can beat anyone on any given night after beating the Celtics, Heat, and Magic this month.
Next, the Bulls host the Pacers (17-26) for what should be another manhandling of that tub of goo from Indy.
Advanced Stats via Hoopdata.