ORLANDO, Fla, March 26 (Ticker) -- With Tracy McGrady back in the lineup, the Orlando Magic had little difficulty dispatching the lowly Chicago Bulls.

Four days after being wheeled off the court on a stretcher, McGrady had 20 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists as the Magic defeated the slumping Bulls, 96-82.

Monty Williams, who entered the contest averaging 6.4 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, had a season-high 18 and a career-high 11 for Orlando, which snapped a two-game skid.

"I don't do tht every night, but when I go get a chance to do it, I'm happy with it," Williams said. "Tracy takes a lot of pressure off of guys, makes it a lot easier."

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Darrell Armstrong struggled with his shot, but scored eight of his 15 points in the second quarter.
Fernando Medina
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Darrell Armstrong added 15 and five assists for the Magic, who posted their seventh win in nine games.

McGrady was hospitalized with severe back spasms Friday night following a collision with Charlotte's massive Robert "Tractor" Traylor. The All-Star swingman missed Sunday's loss at Milwaukee but returned for this one.

"I was OK," McGrady said. "I was definitely in pain at some times, my back tightened up on me. I wasn't really that explosive."

McGrady, who normally attacks the basket frequently, had a couple of nifty reverse layups but mostly settled for jump shots, largely due to the post presence of Bulls tough guy Charles Oakley.

"I was worried about Oakley because I know how he plays," said McGrady of his former Raptors teammate. "I played with him for two years, I ain't going in there and (getting) hit by him. I wasn't that aggressive like I normally am."

"I thought he was fine," Magic coach Doc Rivers said. "I think the first four or five minutes, fear probably had to be there -- especially with Oakley on the floor. You think 'Tractor' hits hard, run into Charles Oakley. I think Tracy was thinking, 'I'm going to take some jump shots tonight.'"

The Magic took an 80-70 lead on a pair of free throws by McGrady with 7:29 left. He scored on the next two possessions on a dunk and a fadeaway jumper, and the Bulls got no closer than 13 points thereafter.

Jalen Rose paced Chicago with 20 points, including the 14 of the team's 15 in the third quarter. Marcus Fizer added 15 points and Travis Best 12 for the Bulls, who were stymied by a zone defense and shot 39 percent (29-of-75) from the field en route to their fourth straight loss and 13th in 15 games.

"(The zone) went well for us," Rivers said. "I did it for two reasons. I did it because we hadn't run it and I thought it would throw Chicago off kilter for a little while, and I thought it would be a way for our guys not to have to run around. I was thinking about tomorrow (at Charlotte) really. I was thinking it's a good way to get rest and still get stops."

The Magic took the lead for good at 36-33 on a 3-pointer by Armstrong with 6:16 left in the second quarter. Orlando held a 50-46 edge at halftime and stretched its advantage to 72-61 entering the fourth quarter.

"I was not displeased with the way we played," Bulls coach Bill Cartwright said. "I thought the guys really competed hard. And in the first half we were right there. We got hurt in that third quarter, where we didn't move the ball as well. We got down and never got our rhythm back."

Although Orlando did not shoot the ball particularly well -- it connected on just 26 percent (6-of-23) from the arc and 42 percent overall -- it outrebounded Chicago, 48-43, and had a 15-6 advantage in second-chance points.

"That's what you call a win," Rivers said. "Even though we didn't play well, we got a win and that's what we're happy with. Defensively, you hold a team to 39 percent, you'll take that every night."

It was the Magic's seventh consecutive home victory over the Bulls since December 10, 1997, and 13th win in 14 games overall against Chicago.

"It seems as though there's something every night," Cartwright said. "Whether we're not guarding the ball, we're not scoring as well. Tonight it was free throws that really hurt us (22-of-36). But that's the process that we have to go through to get to where we need to be. I think it's obtainable."

Coupled with Milwaukee's home loss to Dallas, Orlando (38-32) moved into fourth place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game ahead of the Bucks and Philadelphia, who are both 37-32.

"They won't put an 'L' in the paper tomorrow, and that's what counts," Armstrong said. "Sometimes you'll get an ugly win, sometimes you get nice wins, sometimes you get beautiful wins.

But tonight, it was an ugly win and we'll take it. I mean, you've got to give them credit, they hung in there. But if this was the Charlotte Hornets, I don't know if we could have got past this one."