By John Denton
April 5, 2013
CHICAGO – Ahead after each of the first three quarters and seemingly poised to snag an impressive road victory on Friday night, the Orlando Magic once again experienced problems closing. It is the one thing that is separating the youth-filled and injury-depleted roster from tasting success.
The Magic played one of their best games in weeks and led in the early stages of the fourth, but they collapsed under an avalanche of Chicago 3-pointers and then couldn’t convert in the final seconds of a head-scratching 87-86 loss to the Bulls.
Orlando (19-58) led by as many as five points early in the fourth quarter before surrendering an 18-4 run keyed by four 3-point shots by three different Bulls players. Showing off their steely resolve, the Magic clawed back to within 87-86 with 90 seconds to play.
The Magic had a chance to take the lead with 47 seconds to play, but Carlos Boozer stripped the ball out of Nikola Vucevic’s hands with 47 seconds to play. The Magic defense forced another stop with 23 seconds to play, but Beno Udrih turned the ball over with 11 seconds to play when attempted a spin move in traffic.
``It’s a tough one because we had played well the whole game,’’ Vucevic said. ``They made their run and went up nine but we came back. We were right there and had a chance. But this is just part of the process for us. We’ll learn from this and be better. Hopefully down the line we’ll get some wins.’’
Udrih, who started his fourth straight game, had a season-best 27 points – 18 of those points coming in the third quarter when Orlando stormed to a lead as big as eight points. He did not score in the fourth quarter after Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau switched small forward Jimmy Butler onto him for defense.
Udrih wanted to get a shot off that could have won it at the end, but the Magic’s final attempt was frazzled from the start with the Bulls trapping near the halfcourt line.
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