CHICAGO (TICKER) —Tracy McGrady is adding passing to the list of his many weapons.
McGrady was averaging a career high 5.4 assists but has nearly doubled that in his last five games. He is averaging 10.8 rebounds during that span and has recorded 13 assists three times in the last eight days.
“I have to do what I have to do to find the open guy that is wide open,” he said. “Fortunately, they were knocking down shots. If that’s what teams are going to do, we are gifted about making things happen and finding the open guys.”
“He’s finding open guys when teams come at him like the Bulls did tonight,” Magic coach Doc Rivers said. “He just took what the defense gave him. You just can’t load up on him. The last three games he has really picked teams apart when they loaded up on him that way.”
Pat Garrity scored 21 points, Gordan Giricek added 18 and fellow rookie Drew Gooden had 13 and 10 rebounds for the Magic, who have won six of their last seven games to move over .500 for the first time since January 29.
Orlando had a 50-48 halftime advantage before opening the second half with a 19-4 run, highlighted by six points from Gooden.
“We didn’t come out with the intensity we had in the second quarter,” Bulls forward Donyell Marshall said. “We came out lackadaisical. We just hung our heads and they took it to us.”
Giricek, who scored five points in the spurt, sank a jumper before Gooden capped the stretch with an 18-footer to give the Magic a 69-52 cushion with 5:12 remaining in the third period.
Chicago climbed within 86-77 with 5:31 left, but Orlando responded with 16 of the next 20 points. McGrady scored six straight during the burst and Giricek capped it with a 3-pointer to give the Magic their largest lead at 102-81 with 1:52 left.
Garrity sank 5-of-11 3-pointers and Giricek made 3-of-5 as Orlando buried 10-of-27 shots from beyond the arc.
McGrady was just 1-of-6 from 3-point range but made 13-of-14 free throws. The Magic were 26-of-28 from the line.
Jalen Rose scored 21 points and Marshall had 15 and 11 rebounds for Chicago, which has lost 16 of its last 18 meetings with Orlando.
The Bulls have lost three straight and 14 of their last 18.
“We need to have a better effort, and the effort wasn’t there tonight,” Chicago rookie Jay Williams said. “We need to start doing some things differently. This is very frustrating. It makes you second guess yourself and second guess everything that is going on.”
McGrady scored seven points in the first 8 1/2 minutes as Orlando jumped to a 21-13 lead. But Marshall sank consecutive 3-pointers before Chandler’s dunk forged a tie.
There were five ties and nine lead changes in the second quarter before the Magic took a three-point edge into the half.