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Bulls Out-Muscle Magic to Easy Victory

2012 January 7
by Brian Serra

The Chicago Bulls rolled through Orlando Friday night and manhandled the inferior Magic 97-83.

The Bulls which led by as many as 17 in the third quarter, had their lead cut to 3 with 6 minutes to play before a huge Kyle Korver 3-pointer deflated the Magic comeback attempt. The Bulls would capitalize on that deflation by closing the game on a 17-6 run.

The theme of the night was toughness. Or, really, a lack thereof for Orlando.

Stan Van Gundy on the game, “Biggest issues tonight were their offensive rebounds and loose balls. They react to things quicker and understand the value of possessions. I thought in the first quarter we played with good energy and good ball movement… But we just don’t sustain that level of play.”

The lack of energy sustainment is nothing new for Orlando and it’s going to be a continued struggle moving forward. It comes down to that extra level of focus and toughness that the Magic lack.

Chris Duhon summed it up best after the game, “Throughout the whole they were tougher than us and out battled us. And against a good team, you just can’t have that.”

The team is constructed around 5 starting players who all excel with the ball in their hands. When that doesn’t happen, they seem to fall off. It’s getting that little bit extra on the defensive end. It’s diving for that loose ball. It’s boxing out every possession.

But let’s give some credit to the Bulls and their outstanding defense. They are a REALLY well coached team and it shows in their discipline. Their discipline and tenacity is what makes them great and separates them from being an above average team like Orlando.

News and notes from tonights game:

  • 2nd chance points were the big story tonight, but they didn’t have to be. Would you believe me if I told you that despite being outscored 18-8 in 2nd chance points, that the Magic actually had more 2nd chance opportunities? It’s true! Chicago shot 6-13 on 2nd chance opportunities while Orlando shot only 4-14. The only thing worse than 2nd chance points, is 2nd chance three-pointers.
  • Ryan Anderson had an extremely poor performance tonight and he was the first to point it out. Stan even described him as “not getting into the battle tonight”. He shot 3-10 from the field and grabbed just 3 rebounds in 23 minutes. After the game, Ryan and Dwight had a long private conversation in the locker room. Ryan described that conversation as just a normal teammate conversation and said he “wanted to find out where Dwight’s head was at” regarding his performance. The truth is, the conversation appeared quite one sided and you can tell that not letting his teammates down is something that is very important to Anderson.
  • Ryan acknowledged his poor defensive performance tonight and told the media, “We have to play better defensively, consistently and it starts with me”. At a minimum, he is owning his recent defensive lapses.
  • Dwight Howard led the Magic as normal, scoring 28 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. The next closest scorer on the stat sheet was Jason Richardson with 17 points.
  • The only guys that Stan praised after the game (understandably leaving Dwight off since his name is a given) were Big Baby Davis and Chris Duhon.  He cited that they were on the only guys on the floor that made a concerted effort to make the offense work.
  • Big Baby had only 8 points off the bench, but it was his 1o rebounds and Celtics-esque hustle that was most impressive. He missed a couple “gimme” putbacks at the rim that were still bothering him after the game. The most important note from Davis, is that he told me after the game that he felt comfortable (w/ the Magic) for the first time tonight.
  • Derrick Rose, your reigning MVP, had what seemed like a quiet game until you look at the box score. Rose put up 21 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds for the night. 21 points may have been a quiet night, but his ability to draw help defenders opens up the floor for guys like Luol Deng (21 points) and Kyle Korver (18 points) to drill open shots. Something that Dwight Howard normally is able to do for his teammates.

The most telling quote of the night came from Jason Richardson:

“You got to have that mentality that every possession counts, it’s not about making shot or not making shots, it’s the little things, diving for loose balls, blocking out so they don’t get offensive rebounds.”

It’s the most telling quote of the night, because Jason Richardson did NONE of those things tonight.

The Magic are back at it Sunday night against Demarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Drama Kings. Game time is set for 6pm EST.

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