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Magic Come Up Short Against Bulls Despite Valiant Defensive Effort

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

The Lead

Every time the East-leading Chicago Bulls created a bit of separation, the Orlando Magic would rally and pull within striking distance. The prolific scoring duo of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, however, refused to let their team squander the lead late, combining for 17 fourth-quarter points in Chicago’s 102-98 victory on Monday at the United Center.

Top Performers

For the 10th time already in his rookie season, Franz Wagner reached the 20-point mark, finishing with 22. Playing against his former team, Wendell Carter Jr. recorded his 18th double-double of the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Gary Harris tallied 19 points, his 17th double-digit scoring performance in his last 19 games.

Clutch Moments

The last 10 points of the game all came at the free throw line. Fouled on a 3-point attempt with 20.8 seconds left, Wagner sank all three to pull the Magic within two. After LaVine buried a pair, Terrence Ross knocked down two to again shrink the deficit in half. DeRozan sealed the win for the Bulls by making two of three at the stripe after a flagrant foul type 1 was called on R.J. Hampton.

Injury Report

Robin Lopez (health and safety protocols), Chuma Okeke (health and safety protocols), Cole Anthony (right ankle injury maintenance), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain), and Jalen Suggs (fractured right thumb) were out for Orlando. Javonte Green (groin), Tyler Cook (ankle), Tony Bradley (health and safety protocols), Marko Simonovic (health and safety protocols), Alex Caruso (foot), and Patrick Williams (wrist) were unavailable for Chicago.

This Day in History

Dwight Howard posted 22 points and 17 rebounds and Hedo Turkoglu, who was reacquired by the Magic a couple weeks earlier, notched a triple-double with 10 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in the Magic’s victory over the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 3, 2011. Turkoglu also had five steals, making him the only Orlando player ever with at least 10 points, 10 boards, 10 dimes and five steals. Monta Ellis led Golden State with 20 points, while Steph Curry, in his second year in the league back then, registered 15 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Rivals Report

Should DeRozan be the current leader in the MVP race? Certainly, Curry, Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo are deserving as well, but there’s a good argument for the Bulls’ superstar, who is silencing all his critics who the last couple years said he was on the downside of his career. Although the Bucks and Nets are still probably the favorites to come out of the East, the Bulls will be a tough out, especially with how potent they are offensively. Right now, they have the fifth-best offensive rating and are first in 3-point percentage despite taking the fewest number of threes per game in the league.

Quote of the Night

“I’m very happy for him, just coaching against him over the years, and his ability to stay consistent and stay with the process of his body of work. Doing it the way that he’s always done it. He finds his spot in that mid-range, and then the two game winners that he just it. His level of confidence and just his toughness. I watched the game winners the last two nights and it reminded me he hit one against us in Dallas. He’s always going to be capable of that, so he’s just a special guy and I’m happy for the success he’s continuing to have.” – Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley on DeRozan

Up Next

The Magic return home to play the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday at 7 p.m. This will be the second of four meetings between the Magic and Sixers. Their last clash came in Philly on Nov. 29 with the 76ers coming out on top despite Wagner scoring 27 points and Mo Bamba recording 17 rebounds and six blocks. That was the game Suggs fractured his right thumb.