By Richard Kagan
The Chicago Bulls have accomplished an amazing feat.
In defeating the Orlando Magic, 112-94, the Bulls won its seventh consecutive game. Nikola Mirotic played well, but was not dominant tonight. He did have a double-double, 15 points and 10 rebounds, and came on strong in the 4th quarter. Right now in Chicago, Niko is the man.
The Bulls outclassed a Magic team missing its leading scorers in Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon. They were out and it fell to Nikola Vucevic to provide some firepower and he scored 18 points on 8 for 21 attempts. The Magic only hit 39% from the field and the Bulls outplayed them. At one point in the third quarter, the Bulls had outscored the Magic 27-11 to take control of the game. The Bulls led by 24 points in the early fourth quarter which was used mostly for stat padding.
Chicago (10-20) has won 7 games in a row since Mirotic returned to the lineup. He got in a fracas with teammate Bobby Portis and has been on a tear ever since he took the court. He certainly has fresh legs, as he missed for the first 23 games of the season. Here is a telling statistic: Without Mirotic in the lineup, the Bulls had averaged 95.7 points per game. With Niko back in action, the Bulls had averaged 111.1 points per game. That is quite a jump.
Guard Denzel Valentine led the Bulls with 16 points and also grabbed ten rebounds. Forward Bobby Portis added 14 points. Kevin Dunn scored 15 points and had seven assists. Guard Jerian Grant scored 13 points in one of his better efforts. Robin Lopez chipped in with 10 points. The Bulls had this game early and for once, played like a team that was supposed to win.
The schedule is going to get difficult with Chicago traveling to Cleveland to play LeBron James and the Cavaliers. LeBron and Kevin Love will be ready for the hot Bulls.
It’s a long season and the Bulls made it a bit shorter with this unexpected run. But, the Bulls beat some teams that had players missing — were short-handed. That was the case tonight.