We are still quite bitter about our loss to the Hawks in the first round series. The Magic and its faithful are still trying to figure out exactly what the heck happened in its 4-2 loss to the Hawks. Orlando will be picking up those pieces over the next five months and trying to get back to playing at a championship level. There will be plenty of time to analyze exactly what went wrong and how to clean things up. For now, though, let's dream thanks to WhatIfSports.com...
Chicago's backs were firmly against the wall. Staring down a 2-1 hole on the road at Amway Center, MVP Derrick Rose and the Bulls had the responsibility to regain home court or face the dreaded 3-1 hole in the second round series. Orlando has been able to dictate the pace and make 3-pointers while surprisingly forcing turnovers.
The Bulls have been uncharacteristically porous defensively while committing turnovers and allowing the Magic to get a handle on the rebounds. Not all of Chicago's problems were fixed in one game, but a tie series sure helps the top-seeded Bulls.
Derrick Rose got his help in Game Four as the Bulls used a 10-1 run to take an 8-point lead with a minute to play. The Magic had their chances, but fell 107-101 in Game Four.
Rose scored 22 points on 14 shots (that is efficiency, unlike his real life performances against the Hawks) and got help from Luol Deng, who scored 22 points too. Carlos Boozer had 20 points and Joakim Noah added 17. Neither had a double double as the Magic still outrebounded the Bulls. But Chicago did a much better taking care of the ball compared to Game Three.
Dwight Howard scored 24 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. He also added an incredible seven blocked shots.
But unlike in the previous three games, the Magic failed to get to the free throw line. While the Bulls paraded to the line. Chicago shot 29 free throws to Orlando's 21. Dwight went 4 for 10 from the foul line, his worst performance in the simulated series so far.
The Magic committed 19 turnovers too which did not help as the Bulls had perhaps their best offensive game of the series -- it was certainly their most balanced.
Jameer Nelson added 12 points, his low for the series, while Hedo Turkoglu contributed 13 points and nine assists. Ryan Anderson had 17 points hitting four of his six 3-pointers, and four of the Magic's nine for the game. Orlando just could not hit shots when it needed to do to pull out the win.
And so, the Magic will head back to Chicago with a 2-2 tie for a critical Game Five. A Game Five that will be simulated Tuesday.
Photo via DayLife.com.