Luol Deng did not have a single field goal in the first half. But with the Bulls’ Derrick Rose ailing and shooting poorly, Deng stepped up his game in the second half.
Luol exploded for 16 points in the third period and abused Magic’ forward Hedo Turkoglu on both ends of the floor. Deng snuffed out Orlando’s chances in the final thirty seconds by leaped for a steal.
Rose had a gutty performance—scoring 22, pulling down six rebounds and dishing out 12 assists. Derrick had a woeful 6-of-21 shooting night as his shooting struggles continue. After a foul at the hands of Dwight Howard, Rose was seen holding his stomach. It is clear Rose is still suffering from the two stomach ulcers, but without his presence on the court the Bulls likely would have lost.
The Magic tried boxing him in for most of the game, which allowed Chicago’s wing scorers (Luol Deng, Ronnie Brewer and Keith Bogans) to capitalize by penetrating the lanes.
Dwight Howard had a dominant 40-point performance. But it was not enough this time. Kurt Thomas and Omer Asik combined for 10 fouls trying to contain him.
The important thing for the Chicago Bulls was the victory. They avenged the December 1st home loss that they underwent at the hands of the Magic, and currently hold the tiebreaker with the Miami Heat for the number two seed in the Eastern Conference.