- The Bulls held on at home for a five point, 92-87 victory after quelling a late 14-0 run by the Magic that made this game a contest down the wire in what otherwise would have been a comfortable win; that makes this the 18th win against the Magic in the UC over the last 19 games. Despite having a lower FG% (37.9%) and 3FG% (25.0%) than the Magic (38.9% and 30.4%, respectively), the difference in the game was the Bulls’ ability to get to the charity stripe and be effective (19-22), especially down the stretch (7-8) – the Magic were 10-17.
- Derrick Rose can’t see well enough to shoot, still battling lingering effects of the orbital fracture, going just 2-8 for six points, but the double vision didn’t affect his ability to run the offense and make fantastic passes, dishing out a team-high eight assists. Although he didn’t rack up points, his shot selection was good – most of them near the paint – and his speed and handles caused a fury of attention from the Magic that created open shots for guys like Pau, Joakim, and Niko. Rose acting as a facilitating point guard works well on a team with so much offensive fire power – when he starts to be able to see clearly, we’ll see how many more shots he decides to take (and if they start going in).
- Jimmy Butler continues to impress as a two way player, scoring 14 points and coming up with a couple of big stops during Orlando’s bid for the lead. He added four steals and two blocks on the defensive side, as well as five assists and four rebounds, including 6-8 from the line. Although the box score is impressive, it still doesn’t capture his level of activity and energy on every play.
- Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah aren’t really playing together this season and as expected, it seems to be a good thing. Pau is able to find more space on the offensive end with Niko playing a stretch four, as Pau scored 14 points on 7-14 shooting. Jo made his contributions on the boards and with his passing, logging a team-high nine rebounds, and was able to give teammates easy baskets with four assists. He added eight points (after scoring two total in the first three games), a block, and a steal to his stat line. His energy was great, and so far he looks healthier and more athletic than last year, which is a great sign.
- Nikola Mirotic is showing promise in the starting role, tonight adding 16 points of his own on 3-8 from beyond the arc, and getting to the line for five points. May it be noted that he let it fly tonight, and withheld the urge to pump fake, save for one or two instances where the Magic defender closed out quickly enough to warrant a pump fake. It’s early, but it’s worth noting that Mirotic has the Bulls best net rating by a mile and the team has collapsed with him off the floor.
- Doug McDermott rounded out the Bulls’ balanced attack, being the fourth player in double figures, looking active on both ends. He scored 12 points on 5-10 shooting, including a Hail Mary three-pointer to beat the shot clock that was close to resembling a volleyball set, as he barely had time to catch and shoot. He looked more comfortable in the offense, finding opportunities to show off his floater.
- For the Magic, Evan Fournier had a nice night offensively, scoring a team-high 19 points on 8-15 shooting, and continues to be a threat from three-point range. Nikola Vucevic logged a double double with 15 points and 11 boards, but struggled at times with five turnovers. Elfrid Payton had a rough night and got yanked down the stretch by Scott Skiles, as he was having trouble stopping Rose from penetrating – it didn’t help that he couldn’t generate any offense, scoring just four points on 2-7 shooting. Victor Oladipo continues to be an impressive weapon for the Magic, and their most exciting hope for the future, with 13 points, five assists, three rebounds, two steals, and three blocks–a scary all-around athletic player.
- Up Next: The Bulls take on the Hornets in Charlotte on Tuesday, and the Magic travel to New Orleans to face the Pelicans.