The injury depleted Orlando Magic routed the injury-depleted Chicago Bulls, 111-89 Saturday night at the Amway Center. The victory broke a five-game Orlando losing streak.
Magic Coach Scott Skiles gets no sympathy for his team’s injuries from Bulls’ Coach Fred Hoiberg. While the Magic are missing Nikola Vucevic and Victor Oladipo, the Bulls are missing a key player while others are trying to recover.
All-Star big man, and former Florida Gator, Joakim Noah is out for the season. All-Star forward Jimmy Butler has just returned from injury and not yet back in form. Former All-Star guard Derrick Rose, after two significant injuries, is clearly not the player he was.
Despite that, both teams put five players on the floor and went at it. The five the Magic had out there were consistently better than the Bulls’ five.
Elfrid Payton clearly came to play. In the first quarter, he was slashing to the basket and making key assists as Orlando took a 36-22 lead after the first 12 minutes. After the Bulls cut the lead to 49-40 with 5:09 remaining in the half, the Magic closed with a 19-10 run to take a 68-50 lead at the break.
A seven-footer by Rose cut the lead to 79-69 with 3:59 left in the third quarter, but the Magic went on a 21-2 run spanning the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter to increase the lead to 29. They were able to cruise to the victory from there.
Everyone who played scored for the Magic, led by Dewayne Dedmon’s 18 points. Payton had 15 points and 10 assists.
“We’ve had a lot of halves, quarters where we’re very energetic, we see each other,” said Skiles. “We played unselfishly tonight. We did it very well.”
Chicago was led by Taj Gibson with 16 points while Butler had 12. The Bulls shot only 40 percent from the field and were outrebounded, 50-40.
Orlando improved to 30-43 on the season, including 19-17 at the Amway Center. They host the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night.