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11-18 FG | 6-10 FT | 15 REB | 2 BLK | 28 PTS | -13
Howard was the table setter and finisher, helping the Orlando Magic get off to a good start (12 points in the first quarter) and finish (10 points in the fourth quarter) before the Chicago Bulls firmly shut the door in the late stages of the game. The big fella’s defense was palpable too, as he directly affected Derrick Rose’s effectiveness at the rim. A great all-around effort.
6-13 FG | 3-6 3P | 2 AST | 3 REB | 17 PTS | -16
If it hasn’t been already, it’s clear that Jason Richardson is not the player the Magic need. He had an empty 17 points. He’s not a shot creator. Most importantly, though, is that he’s not a good defender. One of Richardson’s bugaboos is his inability to chase players around screens, which was made evident once again against the Bulls. This time by Kyle Korver.
5-11 FG | 2-4 3P | 3 AST | 1 REB | 12 PTS | -15
Luol Deng thoroughly outplayed Turkoglu. There’s no other way to put it. What was most impressive was Deng’s defense on Turkoglu. Deng made it a very tough night for Turkoglu and that directly affected Orlando’s offense, as head coach Stan Van Gundy was unable to run many pick-and-rolls with Turkoglu and Howard as he may have liked because of Deng and Chicago’s excellent pick-and-roll defense.
2-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 STL | 10 REB | 8 PTS | -2
This is the first game where it truly felt like Davis made a positive impact for the Magic despite his shortcomings offensively. He’s never going to wow you with his offense but his value comes from his defense, energy, rebounding, and the type of hustle plays that Magic fans were accustomed to seeing when Davis played for the Boston Celtics. That player was on display on Friday.
Not enough good things can be said about Chicago. This is an elite team and championship contender for a reason. The Bulls’ level of execution and head coach Tom Thibodeau’s attention to detail is reminiscent of Orlando in 2009. Chicago may not overwhelm with you talent, even though they’re a talented team, but they will almost always play a smart brand of basketball.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.