Bulls-Magic Preview

Orlando Magic Status Check:
Record: 25-15
Division: 6-4
Conference: 19-10
Road Record: 12-8
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Streak: Lost 1
Last game: 100-84 loss to Charlotte
PPG: 93.8 (22nd)
Opponents PPG: 91.6 (6th)
Offensive Rating: 104.0 (13th)
Defensive Rating: 101.6 (12th)
Pace: 89.5 (27th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .505 (5th)
Turnover Percentage: .147 (23rd)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .753 (3rd)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .262 (19th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .199 (19th)
Opp. eFG%: .473 (10th)
Opp. TO%: .127 (27th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .184 (5th)
Leading scorer: Dwight Howard (20.7)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Orlando Injury Report:
Von Wafer: questionable for tonight’s game (sore left shoulder)

Overview:
Chicago takes their eight game win streak, including last night’s buzzer-beater victory, back to the United Center to take on Orlando, the third place team in the East.

Orlando is coming off bad loss to Charlotte. The Magic managed to lose in nearly every single statistic that is tracked during a basketball game. The only stat they won was offensive rebounding (14-13). Orlando shot 38.8 percent from the field, while allowing Charlotte to shoot 47.5 percent. The only Magic player to record a positive plus-minus was Glen Davis (+3). It was just Charlotte’s fifth victory of the season.

The only bright spot would be Dwight Howard’s 15 points and 17 rebounds. But even he recorded a plus-minus of -12. And at this point, Howard may just be showcasing his talents for other teams, rather than truly being a member of the Magic. And it’s hard to argue against the idea that the possibility of a big trade coming in the next week isn’t hurting the Magic.

In defense of the Magic, they were playing on the second night of a back-to-back. But they partially lose that point, because their opponent on Monday was Toronto (they actually beat Toronto, so they don’t have two atrocious losses in a row…so they’ve got that going for them).

And while the Magic are probably feeling pretty down about their most recent loss, the Bulls are flying high. Derrick Rose once again crushed Brandon Jennings’ dreams with his buzzer beater.

“It was like a kid, all the things that you dream about,” Rose said. “It felt good. You’re on the road, going against a team that’s giving you their all and you hit a nice shot like that.”

The Bulls start a six game homestand tonight, and they have some tough games coming up. After tonight the Bulls will take on the Linsani the Knicks, Heat and Sixers, before heading to Orlando to face the Magic again in 12 days.

The Magic don’t have a cake-walk either. They face Indiana, Miami and San Antonio after they leave Chicago. Not quite the Toronto or Charlotte caliber.

The Bulls topped Orlando in early January, but couldn’t stop Dwight Howard. He had 28 points on 11-18 shooting and 15 rebounds.

Rose and Luol Deng each had 21 in the Bulls four point victory, while Carlos Boozer added 20 points and Kyle Korver pitched in 18 off the bench. Rose also had ten assists and eight rebounds, very close to his eleven assists and eight rebounds he had last night against Milwaukee.

Last night against Milwaukee, Chicago shot 51.8 percent in the game and also grabbed 16 offensive rebounds. They can’t expect to do that against the Magic.

Especially consider that Joakim Noah usually struggles when he goes up against the Magic and Dwight. Noah actually out-battled Howard the first time these two teams met last season, scoring 16 points, but didn’t grab a single rebound (Howard went for 13 and 12 in the Magic victory). That was the first time since 2008, and the only time in his career that he grabbed zero rebounds when playing more than seven minutes (he played 25 minutes in the rebound-less Orlando game).

Noah would go on to score just six points in the next two games he played against Orlando, never playing more than 18 minutes.

Flash-forward to this year, Noah had just four points, on 2-9 shooting, but did bring in ten rebounds when the Bulls traveled to Orlando.

The Bulls took the final three match-ups against the Magic last season, to take the series 3-1. Rose scored just 15 points in the loss, but averaged 28.3 points in the three victories (including a 39 point game in the final match-up last season).

Tired legs once again come in to play for Chicago. Deng (45), Rose (39), Noah (38) and Ronnie Brewer (32) all put in big minutes to get the victory in Milwaukee. The Bulls are 11-2 up to this point when they have no rest, including their big 20-point victory over Indiana earlier this week.

But after a crazy, last second win, the Bulls need to be wary of a letdown.

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