On a night when the nation turns its attention to the presidential election, the eyes of some NBA fans turned their attention to the Windy City. The surprising 2-0 Orlando Magic traveled to Chicago to face the 2-1 Chicago Bulls, minus Derrick Rose.
Orlando, lacking a major star on the roster has relied heavily on team work and streaky shooting. Chicago, missing Derrick Rose until at least January, had relied on solid post play and veteran leadership.
With Jameer Nelson sitting out another game with a strained groin and sore hamstring, Orlando was looking to pick up its third win in this young season. Chicago was looking to forget a dreadful offensive effort against New Orleans on Saturday.
Despite 28 points, five assists and a strong effort from Arron Afflalo and a courageous effort from E’Twaun Moore, who added 17 points to go along with two assists, Orlando seemed to run out of steam in the fourth quarter. Chicago also had equally impressive nights from Luol Deng and Joakim Noah who added 23 and 20 points respectively as Chicago held on for a 99-93 victory at United Center on Tuesday.
Sometimes basketball games are virtually dead even throughout, and this game was no different. There were a total of 14 lead changes throughout the game with Orlando leading 48-45 at the break. The big difference in this particular game was in the second half, where Chicago outscored Orlando 54-45.
In particular Orlando struggled in the fourth quarter, being outscored 31-23 by the Bulls. Chicago seemed to have a slight advantage in the paint, outscoring Orlando 34-30 inside and also taking the edge in second chance points by a difference of 17-11.
The fourth quarter was the difference in the game, with Chicago shooting a scorching 57.1 percent from the field compared to an abysmal 37.5 percent from Orlando. Orlando was also out-rebounded by Chicago in the final quarter by a total of 12-10.
Still the Magic had a chance to win the game. Trailing late in the game, Orlando stormed back into the game, bringing it within six points. Panic, inexperience or overconfidence may have set in as Orlando tried desperately to shoot itself back into the game.
As the ball swung to Glen Davis at the top of the key, he was open and confident enough to shoot a 3-pointer. A head-scratching move considering Davis was 7 for 22 in scoring 16 points on the evening. It was not a good shooting night for Davis as he had at least five of his shots blocked by the big front line for the Bulls.
Davis' poor shooting percentage and high shot volume was symbolic of what plagued the team for most of the evening.
As opposed to the first two games that the Magic have played this year, the ball movement did not appear as crisp. Orlando even seemed stymied at times by the Chicago defense. The Magic seemed to lack clear leadership at times on the floor, with Nelson being out.
A bright spot on the night for the Magic could possibly be the evolution of Nikola Vucevic. The starting Orlando center added another double-double with a 16-point and 10-rebound effort tonight. More and more game time for this young man might result in more and more success. The low post game for the big man could use some work, but the raw ability is very obvious.
Although a disappointing night from the Magic, particularly in the second half, the Magic have no time to question themselves as they are back in action tomorrow night at Minnesota. On a night where the country turns its attention to the presidency, the Magic need to turn their particular focus to correcting the second half blunders that cost them on this night in Chicago.