Bulls-Magic Preview

The Associated Press

Derrick Rose put one of the finishing touches on his MVP campaign with a stellar performance against the Orlando Magic last April.

The Chicago Bulls are hoping he'll be healthy enough to produce another such game when they return to the Amway Center on Friday night.

Rose has helped Chicago (6-1) to its best start since winning 12 of 13 to open the 1996-97 season. He had 17 points and 10 assists Wednesday in the team's fifth straight victory, 99-83 in Detroit.

Rose, though, banged his left elbow on the floor after a drive to the basket late in the fourth quarter. He stayed in the game but had the elbow wrapped afterward, and told reporters an X-ray was negative.

"Just like any other time when you fall, you're definitely going to be sore," Rose said. "Thank God we don't play tomorrow and I can rest."

The Bulls are hoping that rest will enable Rose to help them add to their strong start with a fourth straight win over the Magic (5-2). In the previous matchup between the teams April 10 in Orlando, the point guard had 39 points while making 13 of 17 shots.

Magic star center Dwight Howard missed that game due to a suspension for his 18th technical foul of the season, but the Bulls still needed to hold Orlando to five points over the final 2:47 to secure a 102-99 victory.

Howard enters this game after recording a season-high 28 points on 11-of-13 shooting and pulling down 20 rebounds in a 103-85 rout of visiting Washington on Wednesday.

Ryan Anderson contributed 23 points and 15 boards as the Magic bounced back from an 89-78 loss in Detroit two nights earlier - its sixth game in nine days - and improved to 4-0 at home.

Anderson had a career-high 28 points and 10 rebounds while filling in at center for his All-Star teammate during the April 10 defeat. Howard had 40 points in one of last season's losses to Chicago, and the Magic have dropped the last three meetings when he's scored at least 20.

The Magic are still looking for the backcourt duo of Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson to get on track.

Nelson is averaging 6.7 points - 5.7 below his career mark - and shooting 38.1 percent. Richardson, a career 17.9-point-per-game scorer, is averaging 8.7 points and shooting 36.4 percent, but said after Wednesday's eight-point performance that his shot felt better.

"We play a lot of games, but that's no excuse for not coming out with energy and ready to play," Richardson said. "I see myself on film not bringing energy and I'm an energy player. So I gotta do a better job of doing it every game."

Richardson has averaged 19.0 points in his last five games against Chicago, hitting 17 of 34 from beyond the arc.

The Bulls are hoping Luol Deng can bounce back from a rough night. Deng, who scored two points and missed 5 of 6 shots Wednesday, has averaged 19.0 points on 56.1 percent shooting in his last three matchups with Orlando.

Carlos Boozer, meanwhile, will try to build on a season-high, 19-point effort. The Bulls big man, though, averaged 11.3 points last season against Orlando, his second-lowest against an Eastern Conference team.

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