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Game 48: Bulls 85, Magic 59

20 Mar 2012

Three Stars (leaderboard)
1. Carlos Boozer: 24 points (.667 TS%), 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals
2. Luol Deng: 14 points (.474 TS%), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block
3. Omer Asik: 3 points (.521 TS%), 8 rebounds (3 off.)

Don’t be distracted by John Lucas’ 20-point effort off the bench. Most of that came on an early trio of 3-pointers and a handful of baskets in garbage time. It was helpful, but it wasn’t the difference for Chicago.

No, the individual star, without question, was the much-maligned Carlos Boozer. He always kills Ryan Anderson — 26 points against him two weeks ago, 20 points in January — and he was in great form again Monday night, keeping the slow-footed forward off-balance with an array of face-up jumpers, post-ups and drives. Boozer even faced up and beat the supremely athletic Dwight Howard off the dribble for a layup.

Yet while Boozer was wonderfully, uncommonly assertive on offense, Chicago’s defensive effort was the real story. It was the first time in franchise history that the Bulls held an opponent under 60 points in a regular-season game.

Orlando’s offense was just a horror show, with Omer Asik and Joakim Noah limiting Howard to 18 points and their perimeter mates shutting down Howard’s ancillary weapons.

The Magic bench is pretty weak (Quentin Richardson? Chris Duhon?), but they typically live and die by the play of their “other” four starters. They’ve been kidding themselves for years that Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu are going to play like they did in 2009; sure, they’re third in the East right now, but you’re not going to beat any top contenders with those two among your top three or four players.

As such, it was no big surprise that Nelson, Turkoglu, Anderson and Jason Richardson totaled only 28 points on 12-of-37 shooting, locked down by Luol Deng, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson and even C-Booz himself. J.J. Redick was the only Orlando regular who had more assists than turnovers.

Box Score

Record: 38-10, first in the NBA
Next: Wednesday 3/21 at Toronto, 6:00 CT

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