Bill Smith/Chicago Bulls
Bulls improve to 3-1 with win over Magic
CHICAGO – Jimmy Butler recorded 21 points and nine rebounds as the Chicago Bulls defeated the Orlando Magic 98-90 on Tuesday night at the United Center.
Pau Gasol with 16 points and 13 rebounds added his second double-double of the season, while Taj Gibson scored 16 points in a starting role. Aaron Brooks chipped in with 13 points and eight assists off the bench.
Joakim Noah (illness) and Derrick Rose (both ankle sprains) were both out for the Bulls.
Orlando opened the game with a 14-6 run, but Chicago cut the deficit to four, 28-24, at the end of the first as the trio of Gibson, Butler and Gasol combined for 21 of the Bulls’ points along with 12 rebounds.
Rookie Doug McDermott provided an early spark off the bench, scoring 12 points in his first 10 minutes as the Bulls went back on top, 44-43, in the second quarter.
Chicago led 54-52 after a first half that featured 14 lead changes and seven ties. Butler’s 15 points led the Bulls.
The second half opened with a slower pace as both teams struggled offensively, shooting a combined five for 29 from the field to start the third quarter. The Magic outscored the Bulls 17-15 in those 12 minutes to tie it up at 69 as the teams headed to the fourth.
Nikola Mirotic connected on a pair of threes as Chicago built an 87-79 lead halfway through the final period. The Magic narrowed the gap to three points but the Bulls forced a shot clock violation. On the next possession, Brooks connected on a three to put Chicago up six, 92-86, with 2:47 remaining. It was a lead the Bulls would not relinquish.
It was another impressive effort from Chicago’s second unit, as their reserves outscored Orlando’s 37-19.
Tobias Harris led the Magic (0-4) with 21 points, while Nikola Vucevic added 19 and 13 rebounds.
Up next, Chicago will face the Bucks in Milwaukee on Wednesday night.