60 Wins: Bulls 102, Magic 99

To continue what has become a common refrain this season, the Bulls had yet another “first time since the Michael Jordan era” moment yesterday when they reached the always-special 60-win plateau.

In fact, the only other times the Bulls have ever won at least 60 games was in the MJ era. Jordan’s teams did it in 1990-91 (61-21), 1991-92 (67-15), 1995-96 (72-10), 1996-97 (69-13) and 1997-98 (62-20).

In theory, win number 60 should have been a little easier than it was. After all, the Magic were minus Dwight Howard (not to mention J.J Redick and Quentin Richardson). Meanwhile, the Bulls were on fire: They hit 10 of their first 11 shots and finished the game shooting 60 percent from the field and 7-for-13 from downtown. They hit 22 of their 26 free throw attempts, won the rebounding battle 37-33 and registered 25 assists on  their 36 field goals. Plus, Derrick Rose was unstoppable (39 points, 13-for-17 from the field, 3-for-5 from downtown, 10-for-10 from the line).

What the Bulls did not expect was such a spirited performance from an understaffed Magic team. Ryan Anderson tried to do his best Dwight Howard impersonation by scoring a career-high 28 points (9-for-18 from the f ield, 4-for-8 from downtown, 6-for-6 from the line) to go with 10 rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot. Jason Richardson was locked in (24 points on 10-for-14 shooting including 4-for-5 from downtown) and Jameer Nelson was ready to play (17 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals).

I’m sure Howard’s teammates all support his bid for MVP. But they sure don’t seem to agree with what has become the primary argument in Howard’s favor: That they’re basically a bunch of bums who would totally fall apart without him. They didn’t. Although their defense sure left something to be desired.

Of course, that D helped force the Bulls into 21 turnovers, which led to 23 points going the other way. That was the reason the Magic didn’t get blown out. That Orlando actually took a three-point lead in the fourth was a little stunning. But weird things happen when you give the basketball away.

Said Magic coach Stan Van Grumpy, er, Gundy: ”It is hard to believe you’re even in the game. Their 21 turnovers were they only thing that kept us in the game. … We didn’t defend them well enough to win. They were breaking us down every time.”

Added Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: ”They played extremely well. It wasn’t a good game for us. Our defense wasn’t very good, our rebounding was below average and we didn’t take care of the ball. We were fortunate (to) win.”

Sorry, Stan. Thibs will not be outdone in the “not happy with my team’s performance” department.

Rose was his usual clutch self, scoring 11 points in the fourth, including eight points in the final 4:26. The final flurry started with an eight-foot jumper to put the Bulls up 91-89. With 2:40 left, after the Magic had gone up 94-91, Rose drew a foul on Anderson and went 2-for-2 from the line. Luol Deng had the ball stolen by Richardson on Chicago’s next possession, then Taj Gibson stole Richardson’s pss and fed it to Rose for a dunk that put the Bulls up 95-94. Rose also went 2-for-2 from the line with nine seconds left to put Chicago up 100-96.

Still, there was added drama when Richardson drilled a three with two seconds left. Carlos Boozer was fouled and connected on both freebies to put the Bulls up 102-99. Nelson very neary tied the game with a triple at the buzzer, but video review showed he shot it a little too late.

Bulls win.

Make it seven wins in a row and 19 in their last 20.

Still, the Bulls really should have won this game more handily, and they know it.

Said Rose: ”We had them. We should have easily put them away. But we continue to let teams come back. It’s going to hurt us if we continue to do this. But we’re definitely happy with this win. We’ve got to learn how to put teams away.”

That’s what a leader should say. Leaders can’t be satisified. Rose never is. And it underscores the point made by ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell: That Rose is and has been a better leader this season than Howard. The main arguments against Rose-for-MVP revolve around stats. But it’s worth noting that leadership is an important component in that whole “Valuable” thing.

I know this makes members of the advanced stats community fidgety because you can’t really quantify leadership or its affect on teammates — some people will say it comes out in plus-minus, but leadership is much broader in scope — but Derrick leads better than Dwight. Even Howard’s coach seems to know that.

Said Van Gundy: “I think where the understanding’s got to be is, when you want to be a leader, how you project yourself is not just about what you think is best for you. It’s how it affects your teammates and everyone else. That’s sort of a fine line with Dwight. Dwight can be loose and a little goofy at times and it is hard to say it’s affecting his play because you just look at what he’s done this year, but it affects his teammates. It affects their preparation and it affects their play. I think he’s got to be able to weigh those two things.”

Anyway, not much more to say on that subject, and, anyway, you should read Friedell’s article. Hey, Rose is more concerned with titles than MVPs, and we probably should be, too.

Extras:
Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

7 Responses to 60 Wins: Bulls 102, Magic 99

  1. Tae April 11, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    The Bulls have to realize the Magic, offensively, don’t lose much when Dwight’s out. Their best offense is spreading the floor with perimeter attacks which, if you notice, their best offensive spurts often involve ignoring Dwight for large amounts of time.

    Unfortunately, this game heavily favored the Magic as it revealed a match-up tool Stan Van Gundy can use in the 2nd round with Ryan Anderson. Noah simply cannot guard sharpshooters like Anderson, and a pure shooters line-up like what we saw yesterday severely hinders Noah’s guarding abilities along with our board crashing abilities when we take him out.

    Boozer was absolutely horrible. Everytime Rose gave the ball to him, he promptly (and literally) threw the ball away almost instantly for an easy score. Rose is like the anti-Kobe that instead of us wanting him to pass to the bigs, we want him to just keep the ball and figure out how to score instead.

  2. Jan April 11, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    Bulls won 18 of their last 20. D Rose killed it, cant wait for playoffs!!!

  3. reggiemcglory@yahoo.com'
    chitown4life April 11, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    Not Much to add on about the post.The game had its ups and downs but there was one thing that stood out boozer turned the ball over and over in the last 4 mins of the game he had a bad fourth qter yet we won and a wins a win.some games are gonna be won ugly like.
    The MVP talk needs to be put to rest so glad the season is almost over and the playoffs will begin. D Rose is the winner hands down and his play has spoken louder than any other player in this league the calls he did not get he should of got and so on not sure but kinda feel our Bulls may have to beat more than just any team they face in the playoffs unless the ref s start calling the games a little more fairly.Note the foul turk had no call.

  4. kuwabarra@mail.ru'
    Mr Bull April 11, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    Haha Jameer said”I’ll catch you in the 2 round. “

  5. hellajax@gmail.com'
    BULL4EVER April 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    Chicago has always had zero interest of true wins and wins by some sort of an advantage because this guy was out, this and that totally retarded bs, let me tell yall BULL-haters something, Chicago has not even had Noah or Boozer in every 80 games played by this Bulls team and yet this team has already tallied off 60 wins.Yall Bull-haters have always hated these damn good old boys from the Second City, wait till this team starts building another dynasty starting in 2010-2011 and totally beyond and yall will die of hatred cancer because this will turn into a total disease the more every last one of yall anti-BULLS hate these BULLS.GO BULLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob April 11, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    It was good to see Deng get more active in the second half. As some guy from the West coast used to say, “Just win, Baby”!

  7. jan_fajardo@gmx.de'
    Jan December 11, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    You’ve made some really good points there. I looked on the internet for
    more information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this site.

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