Bulls 85, Magic 76

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CHICAGO (AP)—Kirk Hinrich hit the open shots. He hit the floor chasing loose balls. He hit his teammates with precise passes.

That combination lifted the Chicago Bulls over the Orlando Magic 85-76 Tuesday night for their fourth straight victory.

Hinrich scored 20 points and tied a career high by finishing with 14 assists for the third time. The third-year pro added five steals and finished with his third double-double of the season. He was 8-of-17.

“My mentality was a lot better, I think,” Hinrich said. “I was able to shake off the bad plays I made and keep playing with confidence throughout the game. That’s something I’m trying to work on on the days off—just go out there and play and forget about all the little things that happen.”

Luol Deng tied his season high with 21 points and Michael Sweetney scored 12 for the Bulls in their first home game since Nov. 12. Andres Nocioni added 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Hedo Turkoglu scored 20, and Dwight Howard added 17 points and 19 rebounds for Orlando, which had its four-game winning streak snapped.

Jameer Nelson had 13 points, but Steve Francis was just 2-of-9 and finished with nine points. He was cut above his right eyebrow after being fouled with 6:33 left in the game, but stayed in.

Chicago converted 19 turnovers by the Magic into 27 points.

“The biggest thing was we didn’t take care of the ball,” Orlando coach Brian Hill said. “Just way too many turnovers against a team like this.”

The Bulls outscored Orlando 27-16 in the third quarter, including 13-4 over the final 4 minutes. Two free throws by Ben Gordon and a 3-pointer by Deng made it 73-60 a minute into the fourth.

“Tonight, we just didn’t put in that extra effort to win,” Howard said. “We made a lot of turnovers in the third quarter (six), and that gave Chicago a lot of momentum.”

After trailing by 11 midway through the second quarter, the Bulls whittled the deficit down to 42-41 at halftime.

After beating the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets to finish 3-3 on their six-game trip, the Bulls jumped to a 20-14 lead. But the Magic went on a 25-8 run that stretched into the second quarter.

“We’ve got a nice thing going for us,” Bulls forward Tyson Chandler said.

They seem comfortable after the shake-up in early October, when Eddy Curry and Antonio Davis were traded to the New York Knicks in the deal that landed Sweetney and Tim Thomas.

Although Thomas, unhappy with a limited role, apparently won’t suit up again for the Bulls, Sweetney is fitting in.

“(We’re) just getting to know each other better out there,” said Deng, who hit 9-of-19 shots. “That’s the main thing.”

The Bulls will get their first look at Curry and Davis on Wednesday night in New York.

“With everything that was going on, it’s not like we were distracted by it,” Chandler said. “It’s just that we were all over the place. It always takes a little while when you get new players.”

On Tuesday, Hinrich was all over the place—on the floor, leading the break, stealing the ball and hitting the shot.

“Kirk was great,” Deng said. “He came to play tonight. He kept us in it in the first half. He made big shots and he ran the team great tonight.”


The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times reported in Tuesday’s editions that Thomas and the Bulls agreed to split, with the Bulls attempting to honor Thomas’ trade request. Thomas will continue to collect his $14 million salary. He is averaging 4.3 points, 1.3 rebounds and 10.7 minutes in three appearances, and had made it clear he was not happy in a limited role. … Tuesday’s game was the first of four in a five-day stretch for the Bulls. … Howard’s 19 rebounds were one shy of his season high.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
D. Howard D. Howard
6-9,  17 Pts
19 Rebs, 2 Assists
K. Hinrich K. Hinrich
8-17,  20 Pts
0 Rebs, 14 Assists

Team Stat Leaders