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Bulls 96, Magic 94

The SportsXchange

ORLANDO -- Carlos Boozer had 31points and 11 rebounds to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 96-94 victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.

It was the seventh consecutive loss for the Magic (12-20). Jameer Nelson matched his career high with 32 points for the Magic, but he missed two shots in the last 11 seconds that allowed the Bulls to preserve the victory.

Taj Gibson, in his first start for the Bulls this season, had 21 points and 11 rebounds. The Bulls scored easily from inside the lane throughout the game. The Magic, without Glen Davis inside, offered little resistance around the basket.

Luol Deng had 23 points for Chicago, who led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter.

The Magic never led in the second half, but closed the deficit to two points several times.

The Bulls were coming off an embarrassing performance Monday night in Chicago when they trailed from start to finish against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats, who snapped an 18-game losing streak.

After trailing 94-84, the Magic rallied to close to 94-92. Deng hit a pair of free throws with four seconds remaining for the 96-92 lead. Nelson hit one last shot at the buzzer.

Gibson also blocked a shot by Nelson with 11 seconds remaining.

The Bulls led, 54-46, at intermission, riding a fast start by Boozer, who had 17 points in the first half. Gibson, starting in place of Joakim Noah (out with the flu), had 11 points and seven rebounds in those first two quarters.

Orlando center Nikola Vucevic, who had a franchise-record 29 rebounds Monday night, didn't get his first rebound Wednesday until three minutes before halftime. He finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

The Magic hit their first six shots, including three by Nelson, and jumped to a 13-4 lead. The lead slipped away quickly, though, with five first period turnovers. The Bulls led by as many as 10 points in the first half.

Arron Afflalo had 11 points for the Magic before halftime. Neither team was very good defensively in the first half with the Magic shooting 55 percent and the Bulls 53 percent.

NOTES -- Bulls All-Star guard Derrick Rose, still recovering from his left knee surgery last spring, traveled with the team for the first time this season. This two-game trip will end Friday in Miami. ... Kirk Hinrich, who turned 32 on Wednesday, returned to the active roster after missing Monday's game against Charlotte with a sore left knee. ... Nelson returned after missing the previous two games with a sore hip. The Magic this season are 1-8 without Nelson. "He's a veteran who knows how to run the team," said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn before the game. "Other guys respond to him on the floor. He's the captain. He makes a difference." ... The Magic were without co-captain Glen Davis for the seventh consecutive game because of his sprained left shoulder. They lost all six previous games without Davis.
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