Sure, the Bulls have had some letdowns this season, but Thibsball also has a history of surging to end the season as his teams are always at least more prepared than teams trying to lose. So even though everyone was hurt, again, with Nazr Mohammed playing 30+ minutes (first time in 5 years) and Vlad Radmanovic playing 20+ minutes, the Bulls scored just enough points to take down Orlando. The Magic were missing Jameer Nelson and Aaron Afflalo, and are really bad even with them, but credit to the Bulls for not losing focus to the point where this slipped away. The Hawks and Celtics both lost home games against lottery teams on Friday, so the Bulls are now in the 5th spot in the conference. It's true, my utter disdain for the Nets has me actually standings-watching: I want that matchup.
Though the Bulls did make it look like they could blow it at the end, nearly coughing up a late 9 point lead by going scoreless for the last 4 minutes of the game. Thankfully the Magic didn't have Dirk Nowitzki, or even JJ Redick, as their final possession down one involved holding the ball too long, Beno Udrih pirouetting in the lane towards a turnover, and then the rest of the Magic forgetting they had to foul in that situation. Not that the players on the floor wanted to lose, but the Orlando organization got what they wanted, I guess. Everyone's happy!
Not so much in the first half, where the Bulls shot 33% and were down 40-43. But they eventually started to hit some shots, including a nice streak of three-pointers (including Vlad! who Stacey then called "a starter in this league"), and Nate Robinson had his usual burst of second-half scoring to pull the Bulls out of the fire. Long-time Bulls-killer Beno Udrih led the Magic with 27 points, but Jimmy Butler put the clamps on him in the 4th as he didn't score and ultimately boffed that final look for his team.
There are going to be those kind of games to end the season: random guys having big nights, some awful shooting overall, but hopefully the Bulls can both get guys healthy while still banking away wins against tankers.