Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bulls' 4th Quarter Execution Prevails Over Ice Cold Orlando

Barack Obama appears to have retained his presidency tonight, including the support of Chicago and the state of Illinois. Well a different 'blue party' wasn't as fortunate, as the Orlando Magic dropped to 2-1 as they didn't have enough to claim victory in their first road game. Final score was 99-93. Chicago improve to 3-1 on the young 2012-2013 season. Very happy that Arron Afflalo posted a wonderful 28 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. There's a vast difference between Nik Vucevic's solid 16-point & 10-rebound double-double, and Big Baby's horrid 16 & 10 output. J.J. Redick signed an offer sheet with the Bulls in 2010. Thankfully, the Magic matched Chicago's offer and maintained Redick's services. Now 'Redickulous' is shining as the Dukie looked like a point guard with some of the passes he was dishing to his blue and white teammates. Redick led the bench again with 10 points and 7 assists, as JJ found ways of contributing even if his shot wasn't dropping. Thanks to the election activities and Obama's Chicago celebration festivities, the United Center wasn't nearly as crowded or loud as we've come to expect. It's no coincidence there were only three NBA games total on Election Night. Bulls fans were so quiet the entire night. Chicago's attendees only screamed, booed, and reacted when Kirk Hinrich and Joakim Noah failed to break the century mark for them. No Big Macs for you, I'm sure your arteries won't survive. Both teams were without their huge Adidas stars with Dwight in L.A. and Derrick Rose still a few months away from wearing a red and white jersey again. So that asks for balanced scoring and effort, and we saw it. 

Coach Vaughn on Afflalo's effort tonight: "It was his will. He tried to will us...he'll continue to do that for us."

DeQuan Jones has now started two NBA games for the Magic. He only started 2 contests his entire senior season with the Miami Hurricanes. Jones learned a lot from Luol Deng who lit DeQuan up on a few occasions, and I'll leave it at that. Basketball education isn't always pretty. E'Twaun Moore coming into the evening had three career double digit scoring performances in his career. All 3 of those occurred inside Amway Center (one as a Celtic). Well '3'Twaun' would already pour in ten points before halftime, erasing that intriguing fact. Moore witnessed a homecoming on Tuesday being a native to the area and he impressed his peers with a career-high 17 points and 5 rebounds. The Purdue Boilermaker matched up against Kirk Hinrich, who seemed to always give the injured Jameer Nelson problems throughout their careers. It's nice to have a big point guard for as a change of pace. Tom Thibodeau's Bulls were up 21-13 early before Redick fueled a 9-0 run to snag a small lead. 24-23 O-Town led after one period as Ish Smith is showing a knack for drilling buzzer beaters over the past two weeks.

Coach Vaughn on E'Twaun and his play: "He's been great. He's really stepping up and playing with confidence. Good decision making. He only had had 1 turnover tonight."

Glen Davis was initially 0-for-5 from the field as 'Big Baby' just couldn't score over the strength and height of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. Josh McRoberts small forward hustle actually prevented the Magic from getting into a sizable hole. This game had a large lacking of Andrew Nicholson and 'McBob' (Never thought I'd admit that). Magic fans got to foam at the mouth with how successful Ish, E'Twaun, and Arron were on the court together. The versatility and counterattack speed was glorious as Coach Vaughn's crew was up 33-28 midway through a physical first half. Arron Afflalo (9 first half points) and Nikola Vucevic (10 first half points) made sure the Magic wouldn't submit their advantage. It wasn't pretty, but somehow Orlando scrapped and clawed their way to 48-45 lead at halftime. Sharing is caring, and Ish Smith dished 5 assists in the first 24 minutes. The first quarter rebounding and transition scoring problem vanished as the statistics overall were even. Main difference was the Bulls were 1-for-2 from 3-point range, while Orlando drained 4-of-6. 

That's Big Baby's abysmal shot chart above. The 3rd quarter came and Glen Davis transformed into a hideous blackhole Dwight Howard-Brandon Bass hybrid intent on destroying ball movement and causing the scratching of our eyes with hideously grotesque shot selection. It resulted in Chicago retaking the lead 4 minutes into the period. Vaughn stopped the momentum shift by inserting Gustavo Ayon instead of Josh McRoberts. 'Goose' and Nik scrapped and competed hard against Boozer and Nosh. Moore and Afflalo would give Orlando a 63-59 advantage with 4:19 remaining in the period as both teams were furiously keeping their energy levels sky-high. Once again, despite ugly moments, Orlando found themselves ahead 70-68 heading into the 4th quarter.

Big Baby was just so detrimental to the cause, missing an abundance of shots and getting rejected so much that Glen was having Roy Hibbert nightmares again. Redick was struggling mightily to make much of anything as well. It didn't help that Nate Robinson picked a convenient time to renew his 'Magic killer' card, and Luol Deng was a precision sniper from the perimeter. Vaughn exuded remarkable calm as he gave plenty of rest to Nik, E'Twaun, and Afflalo even as the Bulls went ahead 82-74 with six minutes left in the contest. It's a shame Chicago was drilling garbage midrange jumpers. Your everlasting image of the contest should be Glen Davis panicking and shooting a 3-pointer with the Magic only down 4 in the final minute, after being down double digits. In the post-game interview, Coach Vaughn was not hiding his displeasure with the lack of ball movement and huge amount of turbulent isolations. That's definitely more than a hint directed towards Glen. 42 FG% isn't horrible when we consider how superb of a defensive squad Coach Thibodeau has, but the Magic gave this contest away with its unwarranted shot selection. Though they were wasted, Redick and Afflalo showing clutch heroics is encouraging down the road. Orlando's first back-to-back of 13 this season will conclude in Minnesota against the Timberwolves Wednesday. 

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