The Chicago Bulls cruised past the Orlando Magic on the road Monday night, 102-84. The win moves them to 44-37 on the season with just one game remaining: Wednesday night at home against the Washington Wizards. Aside from snapping a two-game losing streak, the Bulls now move to a half game back of the Atlanta Hawks for the fifth seed in the playoffs.
Now all eyes will be on the Hawks as the Bulls need them to split their final two games of the season – Tuesday night at home against the Toronto Raptors and Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden to face the New York Knicks – to take over fifth place in the standings.
Joakim Noah (six points, five rebounds) and Taj Gibson (12 points) were back in the lineup. That was the best news for the Bulls on Monday night. Carlos Boozer (22 points, six rebounds, four assists) led Chicago in scoring while the team also got strong outings from Kirk Hinrich (14 points), Marco Belinelli (16 points) Luol Deng (18 points, eight assists, four rebounds) and Jimmy Butler (eight points, five assists, 10 rebounds). The Bulls had five players score in double figures with four being starters. Chicago shot 56 percent from the field while holding Orlando to 42 percent shooting in the game (20 percent from three-point range) and only giving up 14 points and 18 points in the second and third quarters, respectively. The Bulls had a slight edge in bench scoring, 24-21, and a 33-16 advantage in assists while scoring 20 points off the Magic’s 17 turnovers.
Orlando outrebounded Chicago (39-35) while also enjoying an edge, albeit slight, in paint scoring (46-44) and in second chance points (15-8).
Rip Hamilton (two points) shot just 1-5 from the field in just over a quarter of action in the game and Jimmy Butler shot just 2-7, but beyond that, not much ugly for Chicago against Orlando.
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