CHICAGO – Derrick Rose scored 22 points despite two painful stomach ulcers, Luol Deng added 26, and the Chicago Bulls beat Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic 99-90 on Friday night.
The Bulls won for the ninth time in 11 games even though Howard scored a season-high 40 points, taking the lead with a big third quarter and then holding off a late push by Orlando.
The Magic cut it to 93-90 after Howard scored, stole a pass and fed Gilbert Arenas for a layup. Deng then scored down low with 1:22 left, and Rose hit four free throws the rest of the way, sealing the win.
Deng had 14 in the third as the Bulls doubled up the Magic 34-17, turning a five-point halftime deficit into an 80-68 lead.
Carlos Boozer added 16 points and 16 rebounds, helping Chicago avenge an earlier blowout at home by Orlando.
It was a rough night for Orlando even though Howard was at his best.
He was five shy of his career scoring high while pulling down 15 rebounds, but the Magic simply came up short against the Central Division leaders.
It didn't help that they played most of the game without point guard Jameer Nelson, who lasted just eight minutes and sat out the final three quarters because of soreness in his right knee.
Then again, they'll get no sympathy from the Bulls — not with Rose ailing.
The Bulls' first All-Star starter since Michael Jordan in 1998, he gave it a go even though he's having trouble eating and drinking.
Rose acknowledged he was winded in a big way after the morning shootaround and wasn't as explosive as usual after sitting out practice the past few days. He was off target in the early going, missing seven of his first eight shots, and converted just 6 of 21 overall. Even so, he did his share as the Bulls beat the Magic for just the seventh time in 20 games.
It was a sharp contrast from their first meeting in December, when Orlando blasted the Bulls 107-78 at the United Center and handed them their worst loss of the season.
This time, Howard scored 18 points in the first half as Orlando built a 51-46 lead. But the Bulls took control in the third.
Deng got going in a big way after scoring two points in the first half. He buried two jumpers, a free throw and a 3-pointer before Rose hit one of his own just under three minutes into the quarter to put Chicago ahead 57-54.
After a timeout by Orlando, Deng buried another 3 and shook his right fist as the ball dropped through the net, and the Bulls continued to pour it on after Orlando's Brandon Bass hit a jumper. Keith Bogans made a layup, Boozer hit a floater along the baseline, Omer Asik dunked and just like that, it was 66-56 midway through the third.
NOTES: It's no stretch to say Orlando's Stan Van Gundy likes what he's seeing from the Bulls in their first year under coach Tom Thibodeau. "I think that there's a handful of guys — probably three or four — that at the halfway point would have to be considered Coach of the Year," Van Gundy said. "And he'd have to be right up there with anybody." ... Even though the Magic had won three straight and 13 of 19 against Chicago entering Friday's game, Van Gundy downplayed the idea that they had Chicago's number. "We're a different team; they're a different team," he said. "I don't think there's any history that means anything." ... Saturday's game against Indiana will be the 12th in 21 days for the Bulls.