Dwight Howard’s Dominance Not Enough to Defeat Bulls’ Team Play; Chicago Wins Again, 97-83

by on November 18th, 2010
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Derrick Rose’s padded left elbow didn’t stop him from stuffing the stat sheet. The reigning MVP finished with 21 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. Dwight Howard kept with his season averages and put up a 28-15, but it wasn’t nearly enough to win the game. The Bulls continued their strong team play, and answered every Orlando run with a bigger run of their own.

The Magic came out strong early, jumping out to a 10-2 lead. After a few minutes, the Bulls warmed up and were able to battle back and tie the game. It remained close through the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Bulls started pulling ahead. Carlos Boozer’s jumper at the buzzer sent the Bulls into halftime with a 10-point lead, 53-43. Dwight Howard was having his way with the Bulls in the paint, but he was the only player the Bulls couldn’t stop.

The Bulls continued their strong momentum in the 3rd quarter. Luol Deng’s alley-oop to Derrick Rose gave the Bulls a 63-45 lead just under 3 minutes in. The Magic called timeout, and came back with three quick 3s in a little over a minute to cut the lead back to 9. They came as close as 6, but the Bulls went into the 4th quarter still ahead by 11. Howard had 14 points in the first quarter, just 2 in the second, and 2 in the 3rd.

Chicago started off a bit cold in the 4th, and the Magic cut the lead to 4 before Korver answered with a 3-pointer with just under 9 minutes to play to put the Bulls up 78-71. Rose started to cool off, and Howard started to heat up again (he had 10 points in the final frame), forcing the Bulls to call timeout when he cut the lead to 80-77 at the 6 minute mark. Korver nailed another 3-pointer out of the timeout, which started a 6-0 run to cushion the lead back up to 9. A Boozer jumper put the bulls up 92-80 with just over 2 minutes left. Another Korver 3 a minute later, followed by a Taj Gibson jumper put the Bulls up 97-80. Another Howard basket and-one (he actually made the FT this time) ended the scoring. The Bulls ended the game on a 17-6 run after Orlando came within 3, which was as close as they’d been since the early 2nd quarter.

Box score notes: The Bulls had three players score in the 20s, as Deng and Boozer had 21 and 20 points, respectively. Boozer added 13 rebounds, and Noah had 10. Kyle Korver had a great shooting night, making 5-of-7 three-pointers and finishing with 18 points. Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu were the only other Magic players in double figures. The Bulls had 27 assists on 38 FGs, with only 12 turnovers. The Magic had only 15 assists to 17 TOs.

What to watch for:
-With C.J. Watson missing time with an injured elbow, John Lucas III has been getting regular playing time backing up Rose. He’s been getting more comfortable and making the most of his time, playing rather well. He certainly doesn’t lack any confidence, and has show ability to knock down shots from the outside. Sometimes, though, he seems to get a bit over-confident, and those made shots and lead to several bad misses.
-There has been much speculation about Dwight Howard and his future with Orlando. The Magic went to the NBA Finals in 2009, and have been one of the dominating forces in the Eastern Conference over the last few years. But while a rotation of players have come to support Howard (Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu), they are all gone now. Only Jameer Nelson remains, and he hasn’t been putting up the numbers he used to. Last year, the Magic were a disappointment, losing in the first round of the playoffs. After the beat-down Chicago gave them last night, it’s not hard to see why Howard demanded a trade in the preseason. Only time will tell what happens to him, but it has to be frustrating to be such a dominant player, have a dominating game against another elite team, and not really come close to a victory.

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