Coming off a loss to the Miami Heat, it doesn’t get much easier for the Orlando Magic – they host the Chicago Bulls on Monday night. The Bulls defeated the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday to improve their record to a league-best 37-10. The Magic enter with a record of 29-17.
These two teams met in Orlando on January 6. The Bulls held off a Magic rally and won 97-83. Derrick Rose and Luol Deng each had 21 points while Dwight Howard had 28 points and 15 rebounds. The Magic got some revenge with a 99-94 victory over Chicago on March 8. Dwight Howard had another monster game, putting up 29 points and pulling down 18 rebounds while Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 26 points.
The Magic rank 14th in offensive rating (104.5), 11th in defensive rating (102.0) and play at the league’s fifth-slowest pace (89.4). The Bulls are second in offensive rating (109.0) and second in defensive rating (99.4). Chicago plays at the sixth-slowest pace in the league (89.8).
Tip-off from the the Amway Center is scheduled for 8:00 pm EST. The game will be shown nationally on TNT.
As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen on the radio – in English on AM 580 WDBO and FM 96.5 and in Spanish on AM 1270 WRLZ.
The officials for tonight’s game are Jason Phillips, Curtis Blair and Zach Zarba.
The Line: Chicago -1.0 (184.0)
The Magic will be wearing their El Magic jerseys.
Without Rose (22.8 points per game on 45.0% shooting from the field), the Bulls offense could be in trouble. However, the two biggest reasons the Bulls have been so successful are their defense (second in the league to Philadelphia) and their rebounding (They have a total rebounding rate of 53.7%, tops in the league).
The Bulls are the league’s best rebounding team and have an excellent rotation of bigs in Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik, but Dwight Howard has feasted on the Bulls this year, averaging 28.5 points and 16.5 rebounds per game. The Magic will need another big night out of Howard.
Jameer Nelson has played very well recently and although both C.J. Watson and John Lucas III have had big nights filling in for Rose, Nelson should be able to exploit this matchup.
Rose or not, the Bulls present a tough challenge, especially on the second night of a back-to-back.
(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)
Tags: 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