Afflalo scores 23 as Magic beat Bulls 83-82

Arron Afflalo is quietly putting together a nice season for the

Orlando Magic. He just wants to add more wins to his solid

statistics.

He thinks that team success could be coming soon.

Afflalo scored 23 points and the Magic got double-doubles from

Glen Davis and Nikola Vucevic in an 83-82 victory over the slumping

Chicago Bulls on Monday night.

”To me, it’s just about us getting healthy, putting it

together, and getting some consistency,” Afflalo said. ”I feel

once we get consistent with the things that we do well we’re going

to be pretty good.”

Davis had 14 points and 11 rebounds despite playing with a sore

left shoulder, powering Orlando to a 54-45 edge on the glass in

just its second win in the last 10 games. Vucevic finished with 10

points and 11 boards.

Orlando (8-17) closed out a nine-game stretch that included

eight road games. It begins a six-game homestand on Wednesday night

against Utah.

”I’m really looking forward to our personal home stretch back

in Orlando and hopefully putting a streak together for once,” said

Afflalo, who is averaging a career-high 21.6 points on 47 percent

shooting.

The Bulls (9-14) had a chance to win despite shooting 34.6

percent from the field during another terrible offensive

performance. Trailing 81-79 with 6.8 seconds left, Joakim Noah made

a terrific bounce pass to a streaking Luol Deng, but he missed the

easy layup.

”I had a good angle and it was a great pass by Jo,” Deng said.

”I missed the shot and I knew I missed it when it left my hand. It

was just a bad, bad miss and my fault.”

Davis grabbed the rebound and made two foul shots to give the

Magic a four-point lead that proved crucial when Mike Dunleavy made

a 3-pointer from half court as time expired.

Deng had 26 points and eight rebounds for Chicago, which has

dropped five of six. D.J. Augustin and Dunleavy had 14 points

apiece, and Noah finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.

”It’s not pretty right now,” Dunleavy said. ”We are battling,

we are trying, we just keep coming up short.”

Jameer Nelson had 14 points and seven assists for Orlando, which

had lost its last five games against Chicago.

The Magic appeared to be on their way to an easy victory when

Vucevic and Afflalo made consecutive jumpers to make it 63-46 with

5:17 left in the third. Afflalo had 13 points in the period.

But the Bulls started to pick up their play at the end of the

quarter. Augustin, Dunleavy and Deng each made a 3-pointer during a

13-2 run that trimmed Orlando’s lead to 65-59 with 58.1 seconds

left, capped by an emphatic two-handed jam by Taj Gibson over

Vucevic.

”It’s tough. We’re losing to teams that we’re supposed to be

beating,” Gibson said. ”That’s the way I feel. I just feel like

we have to do better, including myself. This one hurts.”

The Bulls played without point guard Kirk Hinrich for the second

straight game due to back stiffness. Coach Tom Thibodeau said he

hopes Hinrich will be able to return soon.

Marquis Teague replaced Hinrich in the starting lineup, but

Chicago’s offense looked much better when Augustin was on the

court. Augustin, who signed with the Bulls on Friday and started

the second half, had eight assists in 37 minutes, while Teague was

scoreless in 11 minutes.

Thibodeau said he thought about starting Augustin, but he wasn’t

sure if he was comfortable enough with the Bulls’ schemes.

”I didn’t want him to be tentative,” Thibodeau said. ”I

thought he was much more aggressive. I liked the effort that he put

in defensively. I think there are things he can do better, but I

thought he made great effort and I think that’s important.”

Davis injured his shoulder in the fourth quarter of Orlando’s

101-98 loss at Oklahoma City on Sunday. He was a game-time decision

against the Bulls, but he made two big jumpers in the final period

while playing 33 minutes.

”I’m just proud of our guys, to go back home with a win,” he

said.

Davis said his shoulder loosened up during the game and he just

tried to give it everything he had. He also said he wanted to play

against Bulls forward Carlos Boozer.

”I like playing against Boozer. He really fires my engine,”

Davis said with a wry grin. ”Just his whole attitude really gets

under me.”

NOTES: Magic rookie Victor Oladipo, who played his college ball

at Indiana, received a warm ovation when he was introduced with the

starting lineup. … The Bulls waived G Mike James before the game.

He played 37 1/2 minutes over seven games with Chicago. … These

teams play again on Jan. 15 in Orlando and April 14 back in

Chicago. … Boozer had six points on 3 -for-10 shooting to go

along with 13 rebounds.

Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap