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Chicago Bulls vs. Orlando Magic game preview, injury report, lineups

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[Thanks (and happy birthday!) to Swoove773 for today's game preview -yfbb]

Turning 21 is a big milestone. Today is not only the that I am finally able to legally purchase big boy drinks, I also get to watch my favorite team do their favorite thing while I throw back a couple of my own shots. Fancy living, here I come!

Derrick Rose sat out Saturday's contest against the Bucks, but that hardly mattered as Pau Gasol scored enough for the both of them as he dropped a career-high 46 pts. Derrick will return to the line-up today as the Bulls host the Orlando Magic, however Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Doug McDermott are still out with the former's ankle injury improving and he may return this week. Joakim Noah has played through fourteen straight games, and, if you watch basketball on paper, he has been pretty active on the glass as he has averaged almost 10.0 rebounds per contest in that span. Although in reality he hasn't moved fairly well at all this season. Joakim usually starts seasons slow and finds his rhythm closer towards the playoffs in years past. With the All-Star break roughly a month a way, it's not yet time to hit the panic button, but Jo's progress or lack of is something that should be monitored and approached with caution. While the Bulls are deep, a player of Noah's caliber is not easily replaceable.

Injuries aside, the rest of the team has had it's ups and downs throughout the season thus far. Nikola Mirotic has gone from being afraid of so much as glancing at Thibs' to becoming his best non-secret weapon. Tony Snell has shown life in the last week and a half and appears to be playing with a gusto that is refreshing to witness him finally coming into. Despite playing basically 30 minutes a game (27.8 minutes per game), Kirk Hinrich continues to grind his rusty gears, as well as some of ours. Jimmy G has gone in to a slump and it's any one's guess when, if, and how he will snap out of it.

This Bulls team is deep and very talented, but they are not the only team in the league with talented players. All 32 teams have talented players, and the Orlando Magic are no exception. Much like the Jazz, the Orlando Magic have a roster filled with young and upward trending talent. They are comming off a fairly, closely contested match against the western power house Portland Trail Blazers which ultimately resulted in a 103-92 loss.

After that Utah debacle, the Bulls should not take this Magic team lightly. As long as they find a rhythm early and stay focused on executing, the Bulls should get a solid win out of this one.

Tip-off is 7:00PM CT; CSN-Chicago and WMVP ESPN 1000AM 560AM