Late surge pushes Bulls past Magic

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


CHICAGO -- Luol Deng is never going to match teammates Joakim Noah and Nate Robinson when it comes to showing emotion on the basketball court, but Deng knows what needs to be done.
Deng led the way with 23 points, and the Bulls controlled the fourth quarter to produce a 99-93 comeback victory over the Orlando Magic at the United Center on Tuesday.
Deng, Noah and Robinson scored 22 of their team's 31 points in the final quarter. Chicago trailed by two points at the end of three quarters, then opened the fourth with a 23-11 run.
"I've just got to play my role," Deng said. "I'm trying to be out there and keep the guys grounded. For me, I love having those guys out there doing what they do. I'm celebrating with them at the same time. I might not show it, but I am."
Noah had a big night, putting up 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists. He hit two jumpers and a running hook late in the fourth quarter when Chicago took control.
Shooting guard Arron Afflalo led Orlando with 28 points, four off his career high. Guard E'Twaun Moore, who grew up nearby in East Chicago, Ind., added 17 points for the Magic, which suffered its first loss of the season.
"It reconfirms for us how we have to play basketball. We have to share the ball," first-year Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said. "When we play one-on-one, we can't play at that level. We went about six minutes without a shot. The ball just started to stick and didn't move."
After trading all-star center Dwight Howard to the Lakers this summer, Orlando faced basement-level expectations. Even so, the Magic started 2-0, beating Denver and Phoenix at home.
Tuesday's game qualified as the Magic's toughest test of the season, and the visitors had the correct answers during the first three quarters. They led by seven points late in the third quarter and were ahead 70-68 heading into the fourth.
"We're a young team, but even as a young team, we were in the lead most of this game," Magic forward Glen Davis said. "We feel something special here."
The Bulls stepped on the gas, though, when the final quarter began, outscoring the Magic 23-11 to build a 10-point lead with 2:35 left on Robinson's fast-break lay-in.
Orlando still had some life, as J.J. Redick and Afflalo knocked down 3-pointers to make it 93-89 with 1:14 remaining. After a Bulls miss, the Magic had a chance to get closer, but Glen Davis missed a 3-point shot. On the other end, Noah found Taj Gibson for a dunk, foul and three-point play that increased the lead to 96-89 with 38 seconds left.
The Bulls missed three throws in the final minute that would have given the team 100 points and won free hamburgers for the fans. Noah launched a 3-point shot in the final seconds, but it didn't go in. He had second thoughts later.
"I got caught up in the moment," Noah said. "I regret it a little bit. It wasn't a good shot. You have to respect the game, because you never know what can happen."
Orlando started the night as the league's second-highest-scoring team at 108.5 points per game, trailing only the Miami Heat. The Bulls ranked No. 2 in fewest points allowed at 87.3.
The Magic stayed below a 100-point pace in the first half, but it was easy to see why Orlando has been a surprise early this season. With speed throughout the lineup and several quality shooters, the Magic finished the first quarter on an 11-2 run to erase an early deficit.
Orlando led by as many as seven points in the second quarter. Bulls guard Richard Hamilton drained a pull-up jumper at the buzzer to bring the home team within 48-45 at halftime.
NOTES: The last time these teams met, on March 19, the Bulls held the Magic to a franchise-low 59 points in Orlando. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau also won his 100th game that night, reaching the milestone faster than any coach in NBA history (130 games). ... Magic guard Jameer Nelson missed his second consecutive game with a right hamstring strain. ... Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu suffered a broken left hand in the season opener against Denver and is expected to miss at least four weeks. ... Bulls legend Scottie Pippen played pickup basketball Tuesday with President Barack Obama on Chicago's West Side, an election-day tradition for the president.