Magic unable to mount charge against Bulls
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Carlos Boozer scored 22 points, Luol Deng added 18 and the Chicago Bulls snapped a two-game losing streak with a 102-84 victory over the Orlando Magic on Monday night.
The win, which was the Bulls’ fifth straight over the Magic, also keeps alive their hopes of catching of Atlanta for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. They conclude their regular-season schedule at home Wednesday against Washington. Chicago needs to win that game and for Atlanta to split or lose their final two.
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Tobias Harris led Orlando with 20 points, followed by Nik Vucevic with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Maurice Harkless also chipped in 16 points.
The Magic finish just 12-29 at home, their fewest victories in Orlando since they were 11-30 during the 2003-04. Orlando wraps up its schedule Wednesday in Miami.
Though he’s shrugged off questions lately about his team’s playoff preparations, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau did manage to get both Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson some work Monday after each had played sparingly down the stretch.
Neither started the game, but Noah (right foot) was back on the court for just the second time in 14 games and Gibson (left knee) played for the first time in eight games.
Richard Hamilton also returned to action after serving a one-game suspension for hitting Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan with an elbow last week.
The Bulls started slow, but outscored the Magic 28-14 in the second quarter to take a 12-point edge into the break.
Deng and Boozer did most of the early offensive lifting, combining for 26 points in the half.
The Magic had just three turnovers in the first quarter. They gave it away six times in the second quarter, leading to 10 Chicago points.
Chicago maintained its momentum as the lead quickly ballooned above 20 in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Orlando tried to make a few pushes, but never really threatened in the final 12 minutes.
For the night, the Magic tallied just 16 assists on their 31 field goals.
Notes: Vucevic’s double-double was his 45th of the season. … Having spent time in Boston during his stint as a Celtics assistant, Thibodeau said it made Monday’s events tough to watch from afar now. “There’s so much going on and the entire meaning of that day — it’s so festive. It’s unfathomable just to think about something like that happening there,” he said. “It’s just a terrible day. Terrible.”… Thibodeau said a lack of recent practice time for his team hasn’t slowed down Derrick Rose’s rehab schedule. “That’s the important thing and he’s going to continue to do so,” he said. “So if we’re not practicing, he’s still doing all his rehab stuff and he’s working each and every day.”