Chicago Bulls hold off winless Orlando Magic

By Tom Musick, The Sports Xchange  |  Nov. 2, 2015 at 12:57 AM
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CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler traded his white Bulls uniform for an orange Denver Broncos jersey within minutes of Chicago's 92-87 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday night.

Butler grinned when asked about breaking up an alley-oop pass in the fourth quarter.

"That was me being a Denver Broncos cornerback," said Butler, who wore the No. 88 jersey of Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. "I saw Aaron Rodgers try to throw the ball over the top."

Butler's dream of becoming a multi-sport star might have to wait, but Chicago's vision of building a consistent winner under first-year coach Fred Hoiberg is starting to come into focus.

Forward/center Pau Gasol scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds as Chicago survived a late rally by the Magic. Forward Nikola Mirotic scored 16 points, and Butler added 14 points and five assists for the Bulls (3-1), who did not trail after the midway point of the first quarter.

Forward Evan Fournier led the Magic with 19 points. Center Nikola Vucevic scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to register his first double-double of the season. Orlando (0-3) remained winless under new coach Scott Skiles.

The Bulls led 81-66 with 9:16 left in the fourth quarter before Orlando rallied to cut the deficit to one. Guard Shabazz Napier hit a running jump shot to cap a 16-2 run that pulled the Magic within 83-82 with 3:36 remaining. Chicago regrouped with a 9-5 run to finish the game.

"We were just lethargic on both ends," Skiles said. "We had a nice stretch in the fourth quarter where we had five stops in a row. We started getting something going. We were down 15 most of the game. We just weren't here tonight."

Hoiberg said the Bulls pushed the ball for most of the game before going into a fourth-quarter funk. He praised his players for playing hard on defense but said the offense needed more consistency.

"If you get them down by 15, you have to build it up to 20," Hoiberg said. "We have let teams back in. We have to continue that pace."

Both teams struggled from the field. Chicago shot 37.9 percent (33 of 87) and committed 15 turnovers. Orlando shot 38.9 percent (35 of 90) and committed 17 turnovers, including five by Vucevic.

Chicago guard Derrick Rose managed only six points on 2-for-8 shooting. Rose's poor shooting was mirrored by that of Magic point guard Elfrid Payton, who scored four points on 2-for-7 shooting.

Rose said double vision continued to affect his long-distance shooting. He dished out eight assists and grabbed seven rebounds with frequent drives to the paint.

"I'm pushing the ball, trying to get people in positions to be successful," said Rose, who sustained a left orbital fracture during training camp. "As long as we're winning games, I could (not) care less about my eye."

Orlando trailed 75-63 entering the fourth quarter. Fournier made a jump shot and a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to single digits late in the third quarter, but Chicago responded with 3-pointers from Mirotic and forward Tony Snell to regain a 12-point lead.

Chicago established a 54-40 halftime lead after finishing the second quarter on a 17-6 run. Forward Doug McDermott sparked the Bulls with a pair of 3-pointers and a baseline drive. Orlando shot 1-for-8 from beyond the arc during the second quarter and finished the game 7-for-23 (30.4 percent).

Orlando's three losses have come by nine points combined.

"Including myself and a lot of other guys, we had a lot of easy shots that just didn't fall," Magic forward Tobias Harris said. "With that being said, we've still got to play solid defense and use that as our catalyst to start us going. We didn't do that until the fourth quarter."

NOTES: Bulls G Kirk Hinrich was sidelined by a toe injury. The ailment is not considered to be serious. ... Magic assistant coach Adrian Griffin greeted Chicago players and broadcasters outside the visitors' locker room before the game. Griffin spent the previous five seasons as a Bulls assistant coach before joining Orlando during the offseason. ... Bulls G/F Mike Dunleavy missed his fourth game because of a back injury. ... Orlando F Aaron Gordon came off the bench for the third consecutive game. However, defending the former Arizona Wildcats standout remained a priority for Chicago. "If you give Gordon any type of downhill run at the ball, he's going to put you on 'SportsCenter,'" Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. Gordon finished with four points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes.

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