Recap: Chicago Bulls 99, Orlando Magic 90 | Magic Basketball

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Jan 29

Recap: Chicago Bulls 99, Orlando Magic 90

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

BOX SCORE

In a revealing game that may have put the nail on the coffin for a team considered by many as part of the elite in the NBA, the Chicago Bulls were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 99-90. The Bulls were led by a three-pronged attack, as Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, and Carlos Boozer took turns dominating the game and befuddling the Magic defense in the process. Rose was spectacular, finishing with 22 points, 12 assists, and six rebounds. It wasn’t the most efficient outing for Rose but he proved that he’s deserving of being the All-Star starting point guard for the Eastern Conference. Deng was a force, putting up 26 points, eight rebounds, and two steals — he gave Hedo Turkoglu fits defensively, too. Boozer contributed with 16 points, 16 rebounds, and four assists. As for Orlando, it was the Dwight Howard show. Howard played one of the best games in his illustrious career in the league, dominating to the tune of 40 points, 15 rebounds, four steals, and three blocks. Only in Game 6 of the 2009 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers was Howard better. Howard was transcendent at the United Center, yet it didn’t matter because a lack of support from his teammates wasted his herculean performance. Cavaliers fans can relate to that last sentence, which is scary in the grand scheme of things when talks of Howard possibly leaving the Magic in 2012 grow louder by the day. Unfortunately for Orlando, their loss proved something that will — undoubtedly — discourage Magic fans.

Unless Orlando improves their perimeter defense, this is a roster that is not going to get farther than the second round of the playoffs.

The warning signs of the Magic’s issues defensively came against the Detroit Pistons when Austin Daye, Tracy McGrady, and Tayshaun Prince were able to do whatever they wanted on offense, despite the fact that they’re not nearly as talented offensively as LeBron James and others. For Orlando to struggle against Daye, McGrady, and Prince was a problem that was even more glaring when they faced off against Chicago. Even though Deng is a good player, perhaps even underrated when considering he’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, there’s no reason that he should be scoring 26 points. Turkgolu’s defense against Deng was terrible. Particularly in the third quarter when Deng roared out of halftime and took Turkoglu to task, scoring 14 points in the period and sparking a 20-5 run that allowed the Bulls to take control of the game. It got so bad for Turkoglu, given that Deng was giving him fits defensively and not allowing him to create in pick and rolls, that head coach Stan Van Gundy was forced to use Quentin Richardson to try to slow down Deng. Think about that. And eventually, because the Magic were desperate for perimeter scoring, Van Gundy had to relent and reinsert Turkoglu into the game. Turkoglu never did get into a rhythm, and a lot of credit should go to Deng for outplaying him on both ends of the floor.

Jason Richardson‘s defense wasn’t much better, routinely losing sight of Ronnie Brewer and allowing him to get a few dunks. Like Turkoglu, Van Gundy was forced to use J.J. Redick to clog the bleeding on the perimeter defensively but because — again — Orlando needed Richardson’s offense out there, it didn’t take long for the ol’ coach to abandon that strategy versus Chicago.

The Bulls were hungry to win this game and in some ways, played a lot like the Magic used to play in 2009 — excellent energy and effort, fantastic execution, etc.

That was the tip of the iceberg for Orlando, by the way.

Because Jameer Nelson had to leave the game early due to a sore knee, Gilbert Arenas had to pick up the slack for the Magic. Even though Arenas did the best he could offensively, he was a mess on the other end of the court. Problem is, it’s easy to sympathize with Arenas because he simply doesn’t have any lateral movement, whatsoever, to keep anybody in front of him. Rose knew this and tortured Arenas, blowing by him with regularity and attacking the rim. Honestly, there wasn’t much Arenas could do on defense, given the state he’s in physically.

At this point, Van Gundy needs to perform a miracle with Orlando’s defensive unit, particularly the wings. Arenas is, admittedly, a lost cause on defense but there’s no reason that Turkoglu and Richardson should be struggling so much.

Turkoglu is a savvy on-ball defender. The problems that Turkoglu is having has to do with concentrating off-the-ball, as well as putting forth more energy and effort when he is defending someone. You know, like Deng.

Richardson, on the other hand, has the tools to be a great presence defensively because he’s one of the more athletic players in the league. His problem, like Turkoglu, is a lack of focus defensively. That and his technique sucks.

That being said, Turkoglu and Richardson have issues that are fixable. But will they be fixed by the time the postseason rolls around?

If the answer is yes, then the Magic will have a fighting chance against the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics. If the answer is no, then the clock will continue to tick on Howard’s future.

It has to discourage Howard that he’s going all out in a game like this, yet is seeing diminishing returns. Think about it. Howard had 40 points on 14-of-20 shooting and did whatever he wanted offensively. Bankshot jumpers, dunks, lefty and righty hooks, even his free-throw shooting was a positive. Kurt Thomas, Omer Asik, and Boozer were, literally, at the mercy of Howard’s wrath. Even if Joakim Noah was healthy, he wouldn’t have made a difference either. All for nothing. Howard was ruthless against the best defensive unit in the league. All for nothing. It’s performances like these which show that Howard has a great shot at winning not only the Defensive Player of the Year award for a third consecutive season but the Most Valuable Player award too. All for nothing.

Oh, boy.

10 comments
Ferric
Ferric

I agree with Eddy wholeheartedly about the woeful state of the Magic right now. If the team plays defense the way it has been playing then with have no chance against any elite opponent in the playoffs. What really makes me upset is J Rich and his awful defense. Like Eddy said he has the tools to be a lockdown defender just not the knowledge or desire. It amazing that he's been in the league so long and hasn't bothered learning how to defend well. I believe that maybe next year this magic team can seriously contend for a title. If Hedo and Richardson can whole heartedly commit to defense and if Gilbert can regain some of his old explosiveness then the Magic can make a run.

What worries and scares me is that this year might be the last year that the Heat are vulnerable. Imagine if the Heat sign a mediocre center next year. That could be it for the league for several years.

Amaleika
Amaleika

i am not a fan of seeing everything black or white.

it was 3 quarters a very close game with the magic in front! without third quarter does we then discuss that ROSE can leave the franchise sometimes... even with the the third quarter the magics was still in the game if the last 90 secounds in the game goes a little bit better for us.

two of the elites teams play against ...the magic lost on the road in a hard fight without nelson and with not many luck in shooting thats all not more...

to which franchise should howard go? Lakers? i see no guaranted titel with the lakers and howard...

next year you have probably the knicks with carmelo, stoudamire bellanelli and co and the growing up thunders & Bulls and the superfriends from miami spurs and celtics.
i dont see lakers this or next season in front of contenders.
if howard makes a clear statement that he wants to leave like carmelo then trade him.

for howard i see good changes to get one title with orlando but maybee it needs a littel bee more time and some few adjustment with the rooster.

does otis still think about CP3 or Melo? is the first blockbuster trade only the first move to get a bigger one possible?

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

I should've edited my previous post, because I did not mean to accuse you of bringing it up a lot. However, I'm just worried that it might become a trend with the media in general in the post-Decision landscape. It takes away from what is shaping up to be the most competitive playoffs in recent East memory. We don't need to bring up the summer of 2012 for a lack of storylines.

Adolfo
Adolfo

I don't think our postings start a trend, in fact, the media start all these Dwight departure issue, I think that NBA's Top Management has another interest$ and wants Howard to move to a biggest market so they plant the seed on his head trough the media, I'm not proposing something like a "Conspiracy Theory" but it's how the world works. By the way I'm not worried just by 1 loss, but there're many losses piling up where the team seems very weak on D and that's a MAJOR issue against teams like the Celtic, Miami or Chicago during playoffs.

Amaleika
Amaleika

one question, this is now the third time one post from me does completely deleted.

is my bad english the reason? (its not my nature language) or why you delete my postings?

thx

Philip Rossman-Reich
Philip Rossman-Reich

I don't know if it is quite time to panic. I know we are not Boston and this East is very different than last year, but there is still a lot of time to turn things around.

There is plenty to be concerned with on both sides of the ball. The defense HAS to improve for sure for this team to even think about winning a title. But to say any coffin has been sealed in January might be a little too dramatic.

I would agree the trades were more a step to the side (possibly a step back) than a step forward at this point. But January is hardly the time to panic. There are still 30-plus games to go in this season and a lot of time to get things going as a group.

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

I'm not being naive. I firmly grasp the strengths and weaknesses of this team. But if the Magic make two more three's over the course of the game (which still wouldn't bring them to their season average percentage), then this is a different game, and we're talking about how resilient the team is to win on the road without their co-captain.

I've thought plenty of Dwight leaving since the summer. However, talking about it after every loss doesn't help anything. Talk about it when there's a lockout next year, but not while the team is still trying to contend for a title.

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

I don't understand why both your recap and the one over at OPP are bringing up 2012, as if this game is some kind of bad omen. Everyone was like, "This team is right back to being elite and they're contenders," just earlier this month. Now we lose a road game by 9 points where we outscored the other team in 3 of the 4 quarters while neither team was at full strength, and it's all doom and gloom again? You guys are better than this.

Let's not pretend like there haven't been plenty of games where the Magic have bailed out Dwight's bad offense in a victory. There are going to be times when Dwight's going to have a great game but the team loses... you can call it the Kobe Effect if you will. When he's just getting fed the ball without getting double-teamed (and when we don't have Jameer to have any penetration to open up other shooters), the only chance we have at incorporating other players in the offense is with Hedo in the PnR with Dwight. If Hedo's not on his game, well, you'll have results like this.

I'm not saying that this team is going to win the title, or even has a great chance. Because I don't think it's likely. However, they are still one of the elite, and they lost on a day that most of the elite in the NBA didn't play well. Honestly, this loss isn't as bad as Miami's loss to NY, or Boston's loss to PHX, or LA's loss to the Kings. So why talk about nails in coffins, or drudge up needless speculation about 2012, after a single road loss to a playoff team in January?

Amaleika
Amaleika

i dont like your article.. you write it like magic have lost 20-30 points to chigaga and not even close the game until 90 secs left on a tough game on the road.

if some shots goes in and the bleeding in the third wanst like this in the game we could win this game like the first one.

on the first meeting of both teams the bulls were destroyed really with 29 points down if i remember correct... dont see only black and white.

Adolfo
Adolfo

Hey Eddy, since the team is having a LOT of troubles in defense, do you see a trade in the near future to fix this? This game result would have been with Nelson on the floor? Now we can PANIC?