The Bulls Friday performed a little bit of their own magic in Orlando with a 105-83 victory over the Orlando Magic.
The Bulls, playing the Pelicans in the United Center Saturday, moved to 2-5. The Magic is 6-3. Orlando came in tied for the lead in the Eastern Conference.
Justin Holiday with 19 points led seven Bulls in double figures. David Nwaba had 16 points, Lauri Markkanen had 13 and Kris Dunn off the bench was three of five on three pointers. Denzel Valentine also added a trio of three pointers with four assists. Robin Lopez had 11 points and a team high 10 rebounds. The Bulls were 14 of 29 on threes while the Magic was 10 of 35.
The Bulls stayed with the same starting unit and it looked like a slaughterhouse five to begin in a 15-4 Bulls start, one of their best of the season. After firing contested threes to start recent games, the Bulls urged on by coach Fred Hoiberg challenged the basket hard with Holiday scoring 14 first quarter points. His driving left handed dunk off a Lopez handoff was a highlight. But the Bulls broke down defensively, enabling the Magic to appear right back into the game to trail the Bulls 28-26 after one quarter. Despite again not getting many shots, Markkanen was efficient early with a followup dunk on a Nwaba miss and a three. The Bulls slowed to a walk to start the second quarter with a sudden lack of energy. Orlando moved out to a 37-35 lead, but then they went dry with seven straight jump shot misses. The Bulls got Markkanen back in to break their own drought of five straight misses and three turnovers with a long three that enabled the Bulls to remain within 45-44 at halftime. Markkanen had 10 points with six first half shots and seven rebounds. Evan Fornier took advantage of Denzel Valentine defensively for 14 first half points to match Holiday. The high scoring Magic were two of 11 on threes in the first half. The Bulls were five of 13. Only two players shot free throws in the first half, Holiday fouled on a three for the Bulls and Bismack Biyombo for the Magic.
The Bulls retrieved the lead in the third quarter with an 19-5 run that included Jerian Grant also getting to the rim and for five free throws after a scoreless first half. The Bulls’ defense remained strong and Lopez added a highlight with a full speed running dunk of a Valentine miss. The Bulls led 73-60 after three quarters. The Bulls opened the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run to take a 21-point lead with strong defense and more aggressive offensive play. The Bulls held the Magic 32 points below their season scoring average.