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Bulls stun Magic in final minute

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ORLANDO, Fla. — The veteran Chicago Bulls pulled Sunday’s game out of their hat, capitalizing on a flurry of late-game mistakes by the young and struggling Orlando Magic.

Chicago did what good teams are supposed to do.

The Bulls beat the Magic 98-97 Sunday when Pau Gasol scored on a tip-in with 9.4 seconds remaining, capping a furious and fortuitous comeback in the final minute.

The Bulls (32-20) remained atop the Central Division after the Magic (16-38) blew a six-point lead by committing three turnovers in the final 1:14.

“It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but it was a good win to finish up this trip,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “If you want to be a good team, you are going to have to find different ways to win.”

Gasol scored 25 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the come-from-behind victory. Chicago guard Jimmy Butler had 27 points to top all scorers. Center Joakim Noah had 18 points and nine rebounds, and guard Derrick Rose added 10 points and 11 assists.

Guard Victor Oladipo paced the Magic with 18 points. Forward Tobias Harris had 15 points and eight rebounds. Center Nikola Vucevic had 14 points and seven boards. Guard Evan Fournier also had 14 points, forward Channing Frye contributed 12 points, and Elfrid Payton finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.

“We got away with one here,” Gasol said, “and we’ll take it. It was something they could have avoided on their part, but we put ourselves in position, and it paid off.”

Payton had six points and two steals in the final five minutes, sparking a late Magic rally that led to a 97-91 lead with the ball and 1:21 remaining.

It still was 97-91 when Oladipo made a bad-pass turnover and Harris committed a clear path foul with 32 seconds remaining, giving the Bulls two free throws and the ball back. Butler hit a pair of free throws, and Rose followed with a 3-pointer, cutting the lead to 97-96 with 19 seconds remaining.

Fournier took the inbounds pass and was called for an over-and-back violation at midcourt, setting up Gasol’s winning basket off a miss by Rose.

Vucevic missed a final hook shot just before the buzzer.

“A win is a win. We’ll take anything the way we’ve been playing,” Rose said. “All we needed was a chance, and we got it.”

The Magic played their second game under coach James Barrego, who was elevated from assistant coach after Jacque Vaughn was fired last week. They beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday in overtime. This time, the bottom fell out.

“It’s tough, really tough to lose like this,” Oladipo said. “We’ve got to come away with a win in a situation like this. We’ve just got to take all this disappointment and turn it into juice and try to get back at people in the next game.”

The Magic play the Wizards on Monday night in Washington. The Bulls, who closed their six-game road trip, return home to play the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.

“Extremely frustrating,” Harris said. “I take ownership for that clear-path foul that I shouldn’t have made. Just a tough game.”

Guard E’Twaun Moore hit a 3-pointer late to give the Bulls a 89-86 lead, although Payton responded with a steal and three consecutive baskets for the 92-91 Magic lead with 3:35 remaining.

The game was tied at 74 going into the fourth period. Butler had nine points in the third, including a three-point play to regain the lead for Chicago, 73-71.

Harris hit a 3-pointer with 8:10 remaining in the third for a 59-56 lead, the Magic’s first advantage since the opening two minutes. Frye added two 3-pointers in the third to gave the Magic a 67-64 lead.

The Bulls led 50-45 at halftime, riding a good start by Gasol, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds in the first two periods. Butler had 14 points and Rose six assists and five points by intermission.

NOTES: Bulls G Kirk Hinrich sat out Sunday night with a sore toe after starting and playing only 14 minutes in the victory over New Orleans on Saturday. … C Pau Gasol (Bulls) and C Nikola Vucevic (Magic) have 33 and 31 double-doubles, respectively, ranking first and second in the NBA. … This was the second game as an NBA head coach for James Borrego, a Magic assistant who replaced Jacque Vaughn last week. Borrego was making no promises after winning in his first game Friday night against the Lakers. “I’m learning on the fly,” Borrego said. “It’s going to take time. They (players) are learning. We’re going to figure it out together.” … Magic F Maurice Harkless, who was hardly playing for Vaughn, is one guy hoping the change of coaches will help him. He already had a meeting with Borrego. “He said while I’m out of the rotation now, that could change at any time,” said Harkless, who played one scoreless minute Sunday. “I just have to stay ready.” … Magic backup PG Luke Ridnour was not with the team Sunday while attending to a personal matter.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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