For the fourth straight game the Chicago Bulls played uneven basketball. The Bulls appeared to be in control of the game in the 1st half and took another lead into halftime only to have a poor offensive output in the 2nd half and lose. This time the Bulls suffered there 3rd loss in a row; dropping a 98-91 decision to the Orlando Magic.
The teams played a pretty even 1st quarter as there where five lead changes and two ties during the quarter. The biggest lead either team had in the 1st quarter was four points. Mario Hezonja hit a jumper to give Orlando a 19-15 lead with 2:25 left in the quarter. Those would be the last points the Magic would score as the Bulls scored the final seven points of the quarter to take a 22-19 lead after one quarter.
The Magic tied the game back up on there first shot of the 2nd period; a 3-pointer by D.J. Augustin, but the Bulls went right back into the lead and held it for the remainder of the quarter. A 22 to 11 run gave the Bulls their first double digit lead of the game. Jimmy Butler capped off the run with e 2-pointer to make the score 44-33. Orlando cut the lead down to seven points, but the Bulls pushed the lead right back to 11 points at 50-39 with 1:22 left in the quarter. After the teams traded some baskets in the last minute the Bulls went into half time with a 53-43 lead.
The Bulls took there biggest lead of the game; 13 points and held it until there was 8:44 left in the quarter. Orlando started to work their way back into the game and after Terrence Ross hit a 3-pointer with 3:23 left in the quarter the Magic where within one point at 71-70. Chicago was able to push the lead back to five points at two different times in the final three minutes, but the Magic scored seven of the final nine points of the 3rd quarter and the game was tied at 77 all headed into the 4th.
Early in the 4th quarter there where four lead changes and two ties between the teams. With the score tied at 81 all D.J. Augustin hit a lay up to give the Magic a lead they wouldn’t give up. Augustin’s basket was also the start of a 7to 0 run for the Magic. The Bulls then scored five straight points to cut the lead to two points at 88-86. Chicago cut the lead down to two on two different occasions, but they where never able to get the game even or take the lead. The Bulls scored just 14 points in the 4th quarter as Orlando was able to get away for a 98-91 victory.
Elfrid Payton put up his 2nd straight triple-double for Orlando. Payton was the games high scorer with 22 points. He was also the games top rebounder with 14 boards and he also handed out the most assists in the game with 14. Evan Fournier scored 20 points while Terrence Ross scored 14 points and Aaron Gordon added 13 points.
Jimmy Butler was the Bulls leading scorer with 21 points. Butler also handed out a team high 9 assists. Jerian Grant added 13 points and Robin Lopez scored 10 points and was the teams leading rebounder with 9. Cristiano Felicio came off the Bulls bench to score 11 points. Dwayne Wade sat out the game with a thigh injury.
The win improves Orlando’s record to 24-41 this season. The Magic get a day off before they head to Charlotte to face the 28-36 Hornets. This was Chicago’s 3rd loss in a row and their 4th on 5 games. The Bulls are 31-33 and hanging onto the final (8th) playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls also get a day off before they host the 44-21 Houston Rockets on Friday night.