The Orlando Magic blew a 17-point lead and let the Chicago Bulls take a brief lead in both the third and fourth quarters before holding off the Bulls and earning arguably their best win of the season.
Dwight Howard was a monster throughout the game, finishing with 29 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks while Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 26 points.
The Magic, who have made a habit out of blowing big leads, did it again Thursday night, allowing the Bulls to take a 91-89 lead on a Boozer jumper with 2:55 to go. After Howard missed it a layup, it appeared as if the Magic were in for another heartbreaking loss. However, Kyle Korver missed a three-pointer (he missed five straight good looks in the fourth quarter) and the Magic evened the score on a Nelson-to-Howard alley-oop. After Derrick Rose missed a jumper, Ryan Anderson hit a three-pointer off of an offensive rebound by Jameer Nelson. After another stop, Anderson hit two free throws. Chicago got within four a Rose free throw and forced a missed shot but they Magic, but Howard went up, got the rebound and the Magic got the ball to J.J. Redick, who closed out the game on the free throw line.
Howard was phenomenal on both ends of the court. He helped the Magic limit the Bulls to just 34 points in the paint and did a great job of keeping the reigning MVP, Derrick Rose, out of the paint. Rose wound up with just 17 points on 6-of-22 shooting. On the offensive end, Howard was aggressive and confident. Although he had a lot of trouble scoring down the stretch, he had one of his better offensive games of the season. He finished with 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting and went 7-of-10 from the charity stripe, a number I’m sure makes Magic fans quite happy.
The last time these two teams met, Orlando’s inability to rebound the ball ultimately cost them the game. This time, the Magic grabbed 49 rebounds to the Bulls’ 40 and although Chicago grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, the Magic topped that, pulling down 17 of their own.
- Orlando’s three-point shooting again was a big reason for their success. They shot 11-of-27 from beyond the arc while the Bulls went just 5-of-22, including marksman Kyle Korver, who went just 1-of-7.
- Orlando’s first quarter was incredible – they scored 37 points on 15-of-20 shooting and went 6-of-8 from beyond the arc.
- Jason Richardson was injured in the fourth quarter when he collided with Jameer Nelson and looked to be in a lot of pain. Before the injury, Richardson was having a solid game, scoring 18 points in 31 minutes. He was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
- Nelson didn’t have to leave the game and wound up with nine points, seven assists and four rebounds. Nelson was aggressive early on and got by Rose a few times, but was slowed by an ankle injury.
- Hedo Turkoglu had a bad night shooting (3-of-10) and at one time looked like he was actively trying to lose the game, taking bad shots and committing a technical foul that allowed Chicago to take their late lead. However, Turkoglu’s line didn’t look all that bad – he had 13 points, six assists, six rebounds and just one turnover.
- Glen Davis provided great energy off of the bench, hustling to rebounds and loose balls. He had eight points and seven rebounds.
Next Up: The Magic have two days off before hosting the Indiana Pacers Sunday evening.
Final Thought: After suffering one of their most embarrassing losses ever, the Magic defeated the team with the league’s best record.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HtD app here)
Topics: C.j. Watson, Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls, Chris Duhon, Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Joakim Noah, Larry Hughes, Luol Deng, Omer Asik, Orlando Magic, Otis Smith, Quentin Richardson, Richardson Hamilton, Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy, Taj Gibson, Von Wafer