The Bulls Monday produced the wizardry and exorcised some ghosts of their own in an impressive 112-80 victory over the Orlando Magic.
The defense was vigorous and the ball moved with purpose and alacrity as the Bulls dominated after a 15-0 run to close the first quarter. Then Bulls led by double digits most of the game after that with a third quarter 13-0 run as well.
The Bulls were led by Jimmy Butler with 20 points and seven assists and Taj Gibson with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Dwyane Wade added 16 points and Rajon Rondo had nine points and six assists. The bench was effective with Doug McDermott scoring 11 and Isaiah Canaan scoring 10. Bobby Portis had nine points and six rebounds. The Bulls had a robust 23 fast break points with a 56-39 rebounding margin. The Bulls led by as many as 38.
The Bulls are 4-3 and play in Atlanta Wednesday and Wade’s homecoming in Miami Thursday. The Magic is 3-4.
The Bulls were looking for a fast start and got it, making six of their first eight shots and scoring 16 points in the first five minutes. Stopping the other team from matching that was the issue, at least early as the Magic took a 20-16 lead with 6:40 left in the first. But coach Fred Hoiberg made some early defensive substitutions with Canaan and Portis, who applied ball pressure and the Bulls went on a 15-0 run to close the first quarter for a 37-24 lead. The Bulls shot 61 percent and, more importantly, had 11 assists on 14 field goals, returning to the ball movement that had gone unavailing off late. The Bulls looked like the first week of the season in racing to a 49-33 lead as the passing continued with Rondo spotting Wade upcourt for a layup. The Magic answered with a pair of threes from former Bull D.J. Augustin before the Bulls settled for a 61-52 halftime lead with 56 percent shooting. Though Orlando kept at it shooting 54 percent in the half. Wade had 14 points and Gibson hustled and fought his way to 10 points and five rebounds.
The Magic made a bit of a run to open the third quarter, pulling within 63-58 on an Evan Fornier three before the Bulls performed a little magic of their own in making Orlando disappear with a 23-3 run that gave the Bulls an 88-63 lead after three quarters. Gibson had a brilliant drop step move for a score, Butler was all over the court on defense and scoring on run outs, making 10 of 10 free throws through three quarters and Rondo had the ball moving rapidly. But it was the defense this time as the Magic shot 19 percent in a third quarter in which the Bulls outscored them 27-11 despite shooting just 36 percent.