The Bulls Sunday reached down for some late game defensive magic to defeat Orlando 92-87.
The Bulls went to 3-1 and play in Charlotte Tuesday.
The Bulls had another balanced offensive balancing act with Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol leading with 16 points each. Doug McDermott had 12 points off the bench as Joakim Noah added eight points and nine rebounds with some spirited closing moves.
The Bulls weathered a fourth quarter 14-0 Orlando run that brought the Magic within one point before Bulls defensive smothered Orlando’s offense down the stretch.
Derrick Rose had six points, eight assists and seven rebounds and Jimmy Butler had 14 points.
The Bulls got some of the memo as the gained better control of the rebounding and began to show improved pace to their game. They shot 52 percent in the first quarter and with Pau Gasol scoring eight points in the first quarter the Bulls took a 29-26 lead. The Bulls stretched their halftime lead to 54-40 with strong play from Rose, Noah and McDermott. The Bulls haven’t done a good job this season finding the hot shooting McDermott, who quickly made four of six. Noah was adept finishing at the basket and Rose had by far the biggest first half plus/minus in speeding up the pace that the Bulls had so often talked about but have not done as much the first three games.
Noah had a beautiful catch and finish on a pass from Rose midway through the third quarter while Mirotic continued his consistent three point shooting and the Bulls took a 75-63 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Bulls looked like the were going to ease to victor after a fancy Noah backdoor layup pass to McDermott for a score and the Bulls would go ahead 83-68. But Orlando with a quicker, more athletic lineup went on a 14-0 run to make it nervous down the stretch.