Valentine, Mirotic help Bulls top Magic for 7th straight win
ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 21, 2017 11:20 AM
Chicago Bulls guard Kris Dunn, left, dribbles the ball as Orlando Magic forward Wesley Iwundu, right, defends him during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)
By Dan Hayes, Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — Denzel Valentine had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Nikola Mirotic had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Orlando Magic 112-94 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) for their seventh straight win.
The Bulls had lost 10 straight with Mirotic out of the lineup prior to his return Dec. 8, and they haven’t lost since to improve to 10-20.
Nikola Vucevic scored 18 points for Orlando, which lost its sixth in a row.
Facing the league’s fourth-worst scoring defense, the Bulls took a 43-27 lead with 9:05 left in the second quarter on Mirotic’s layup, one of many easy baskets. Chicago’s strong ball movement resulted in easy looks inside and out, and the team had assists on 10 of its first 15 shots.
Robin Lopez connected on his first four attempts for a club averaging 111.1 points per contest since Mirotic returned to the lineup — up from 95.7 points in 23 games without the forward.
Injury-riddled Orlando, which played without leading scorers Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon, struggled to keep pace. The Magic made only 3-of-15 first-half three-point tries en route to their 17th loss in 20 games.
Magic: Fournier and Gordon were out of action yet again. Each is tied for the team lead with an 18.3-point per game average. Fournier missed his sixth straight game with a sprained right ankle while Gordon didn’t play for the fourth time in five contests because of a right calf strain. Guard Terrance Ross missed a 10th straight game due to a sprained right knee.
Bulls: Guard Zach LaVine, who is rehabbing from a February surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, has been held out of several practices due to back spasms but should return soon. “Zach’s doing great,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s back to really feeling good again and, hopefully, we’ll get him back on the practice court whenever our next practice is.”
Magic: Hosts New Orleans on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time).
Bulls: At Cleveland on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time).