Orlando 102, Chicago 88

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 15 (AP) -- The Orlando Magic's often-criticized signing of free agent Rashard Lewis might finally be working out.

Lewis, who averaged 22.4 points in Seattle last season before signing a $118 million deal with Orlando last summer, had 26 points to help the Magic to an easy 102-88 win over Chicago on Tuesday night.

It was Lewis' fifth straight game with 20 or more points after reaching that level only once the previous 12 games. He hit seven of 10 shots, including four of five 3-point attempts, but was more excited by the fact he got to the foul line seven times and made six.

"It's time for me to get a little more aggressive,'' Lewis said. "I can't just sit out on the wing and be a three-point shooter. That's really not my game. I can do a lot more things for this team.''

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy took part of the blame for Lewis be considered only a three-point gunner this season.

"There really shouldn't be any criticism when he looks one-dimensional, that's really me and how we play the game,'' Van Gundy said. "If I put him in positions to drive the ball, he will. If I put him in positions to post up, he will.''

The Magic also got a surprising contribution from reserve forward Brian Cook, who scored a season-high 14 points, before fouling out. Cook, who played only two minutes in the last 14 games, had a pair of 3-pointers and was the primary spark in the Magic taking a 57-52 halftime lead.

"I can be a perimeter option for this team, but I have to stay out of foul trouble,'' Cook said. "I just haven't played enough and I keep making mistakes defensively, but I know I can help this team.''

Chicago, which was outscored 32-10 in the decisive third period, had only three players in double figures. Joe Smith led the way with 13 points, rookie Joakim Noah had 12 and a career-best 11 rebounds and Luol Deng added 10.

"We had a lack of effort all the way across the board by just about everybody,'' Chicago coach Jim Boylan said. "Our defense is soft and anemic at times and we just seem to be casual with the ball. If we want to get ourselves right, we have to change the way we're playing.''

Orlando led only 57-52 at halftime, but limited the Bulls to just 21.4 percent (3-for-14) shooting in the third period to run away with the game. The Magic started the quarter with a 16-2 run that ended with a 3-pointer by Lewis. He hit four 3s in the game.

The Magic hit six three-pointers and shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, helping them build a 14-point lead. Maurice Evans' tip-in with 5:53 left in the second period put Orlando up 50-36 against a lethargic Bulls team.

Chicago struck back with some hot shooting of its own. Andres Nocioni and Thabo Sefolosha had 3-pointers during a 16-4 run that cut the Bulls deficit to just 54-52 with 1:12 left in the period.

The Magic escaped with a 57-52 halftime advantage, then blew the game open at the start of the third period.

Notes: Chicago G Kirk Hinrich, the only Bulls player to start every game this season, was inactive because of back spasms. Howard is third in the NBA in free throws made (286), despite shooting only 60.1 percent from the line this season. Bulls F Andres Nocioni left the game with a bruised hip in the third quarter after flipping over Bogans. The Magic were 1-6 against the Bulls in their previous seven meetings in Orlando. Bulls G Ben Gordon is only 10-for-32 (31.3 percent) from the field in his last three games. The Magic's four previous opponents shot 49.1 percent (153-for-311) against Orlando.

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