Deng leads way as Bulls top Magic
Chicago, IL – Luol Deng poured in 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds on Tuesday, as the Chicago Bulls handed the Orlando Magic their first loss of the season with a 99-93 triumph at United Center.
Joakim Noah filled the stat sheet with 20 points, nine boards, five blocks and four assists, while Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer donated 12 points apiece for the Bulls, who were coming off an 89-82 loss to New Orleans on Saturday.
"It's not surprising," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said of Deng's performance. "That's the thing about Luol, he provides whatever you need."
Arron Afflalo scored a game-high 28 points to led the way for the Magic, who were without point guard Jameer Nelson, who is out with a hamstring injury, and forward Hedo Turkoglu, who broke his left hand in the season-opener on Friday.
Glen Davis and Nikola Vucevic each registered a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds in the setback.
"There are no all-stars on this team and any night any one can be the leading scorer, but we still need to help each other," Davis said. "Tonight we kind of got away from that a little bit."
Chicago trailed 70-68 after three quarters, but the Bulls opened the fourth on a 12-2 run, highlighted by six points from Deng, to take an 80-72 advantage with 6:39 left in the contest.
Orlando pulled within five after Davis buried back-to-back jumpers around a Nate Robinson free throw, but the Bulls netted the next six points to build a 91-81 advantage with 2:35 left in the fourth.
Afflalo's 3-pointer brought the Magic within four with 1:15 remaining, but they would get no closer, as Gibson threw down a dunk, drew the contact and nailed the free throw to convert a three-point play and give the Bulls a comfortable seven-point lead with 39 seconds remaining.
Chicago built a 21-13 lead in the first after a hook shot from Boozer, but the Magic closed the quarter on an 11-2 surge to take a 24-23 lead after one.
The Magic lead reached seven late in the second after back-to-back buckets from Vucevic around a Noah free throw, but Richard Hamilton scored the final four points of the half to trim the margin to 48-45 heading into the break.
Chicago regained the lead early in the third and held a 57-54 edge after a Kirk Hinrich jumper before Orlando countered with a 12-2 run, capped by five straight free throws from Afflalo to make it a 66-59 game with 3:36 left in the third.
The Bulls answered with the next six points before Gibson's dunk with less than 30 seconds remaining sent the home team into the final frame facing a two-point deficit.
The Magic were looking for their fourth 3-0 start in franchise history ... Chicago has won six of the last eight matchups ... E'Twuan Moore added 17 points and five rebounds for the Magic ... The game featured 14 lead changes and was tied four different times.