The Bulls suffered one of the worst losses of the NBA season on Wednesday night by losing to the Rockets to break their 15-game losing streak, but they luckily had a great opportunity to get a bounce-back win on Friday in Orlando. While Wendell Carter Jr. had himself a nice little revenge game with 26 points and 10 rebounds, the Bulls beat the doors off the Magic in a 123-88 triumph.
Chicago actually got off to a sluggish start and fell behind by seven points early after a Carter 3-pointer, but Coby White came in and sparked a turnaround to open his best performance of the season. White scored seven quick points in the first quarter as part of a 20-point effort on 9-of-11 shooting. He was a game-best plus-39 in just 24 minutes of action.
The game was still tied after one quarter, but the Bulls firmly took control in the second. Orlando’s offense went into a rut and Chicago started forcing turnovers, leading to a 55-46 advantage at halftime.
Instead of a turd quarter like in Houston, the Bulls put the pedal to the metal and effectively ended this game in the third. After an ugly shooting first half, DeMar DeRozan came alive, going for 12 points in the frame. DeRozan hit all three of his 3-point attempts in the quarter as Chicago shot 6-of-11 from deep and nearly 61% overall. DeRozan finished with a game-high 23 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists.
It was a 21-point advantage going into the fourth quarter, and the Bulls didn’t play around at all, starting the final frame on a 19-3 run to truly make it a laugher. This made for extended garbage time, giving key players some nice rest ahead of Saturday’s showdown against the Heat.
In addition to White and DeRozan playing well, the Bulls got an easy 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting from Zach LaVine, who also added five assists. Lonzo Ball played a terrific all-around game with 13 points, six assists, four rebounds and a whopping five steals, with Alex Caruso also racking up four thefts in a dominant defensive performance off the bench (plus-38). And Nikola Vucevic had a stellar 16/8/3 in his first return to Orlando since last season’s trade.
All in all, it was a terrific team performance to almost wash the bad taste of the Rockets game out of their mouth. The Bulls shot 55.8% from the field and 17-of-34 from 3-point range while holding the Magic to 37.5% shooting. Beat the Heat on Saturday and I’ll almost forget about that Wednesday debacle! It should be a fun one at the UC with Jimmy Butler and Co. coming to town, with the second-place Bulls hosting the third-place Heat.