CHICAGO — They didn’t have Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah in the lineup Tuesday night, but the Chicago Bulls had plenty of depth at their disposal.
It paid off in a 98-90 win against the Orlando Magic at the United Center for the Bulls’ second win in as many games without the injured Rose, who took warmups but didn’t play because of lingering ankle injuries.
Paced by 34-year-old forward/center Pau Gasol (16 points) and guard Jimmy Butler (21 points), Chicago improved to 3-1 by getting 10 players into the game and five into double-figure scoring.
“We are shooting so much better,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said, after watching his team post identical 46.7 percent shooting marks from the field (35-of-75) and the 3-point line (7-of-15). “That is a big plus for the team. When you add Pau to the lineup, with everything that he does, that is winning basketball. It was a good team win.”
Gasol logged a whopping 40:59 of playing time to lead all players in minutes, while Butler patched the hole left in the backcourt by Rose, playing 35:02 and pulling down nine rebounds to go with his point total. Forward Taj Gibson, who started for Noah, added 16 points.
“Everybody in this league has a team full of NBA players,” Butler said. “That means everyone is really good. [It’s] like Thibs says, ‘You wouldn’t be here if you were not a really good basketball player.’ But guys step up. We want everyone playing. We are still supposed to win the game.”
Also posting double-digit scoring for Chicago were rookie forward Doug McDermott (12 points) and reserve guard Aaron Brooks, who had eight assists and three blocks to go with the 13 points he scored.
Forward Tobias Harris led Orlando (0-4), scoring 21 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Teammate Nikola Vucevic, a 7-foot center, finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Magic, who out-rebounded the Bulls 48-44.
“Tonight I came out and wanted to be aggressive,” Harris said. “I wanted to match the intensity of the Bulls, with their defense. I was taking what they gave me. We just let this game slip away.”
The game was tied at 69 starting the fourth quarter. The lead continued to see-saw until Chicago started pulling away near the midway point. A 3-pointer by rookie Nikola Mirotic (eight points) with 7:51 left put the Bulls up 82-77, matching their largest lead of the game. A second three by the Serbian rookie, from almost the same spot on the floor, made it 87-79 with 6:38 left.
The Bulls closed it out from there, with Brooks hitting several big shots down the stretch to preserve or extend the lead. Aiding the effort was Chicago’s ability to get to the free-throw line. The Bulls went 21-of-27 at the foul line, compared to 8-of-14 for the Magic.
“We just have to learn from that,” Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said. “We have to accept that is how things are called on the floor. We have to play hard and get the respect to get those same calls.”
Orlando held a 28-24 lead after the first quarter, with seven Magic players scoring in an effort that included the Magic hitting 12 of 21 shots (57.1 percent). Chicago erased the deficit in a tightly contested second quarter and took a 54-52 lead into halftime after Butler scored on a runner at the baseline with 1.2 seconds left.
NOTES: Bulls G Derrick Rose participated in pregame warmups but missed his second game because of sprains in each ankle. … Bulls C/F Joakim Noah didn’t attend the morning shoot-around because of an illness and didn’t play. Noah will travel Wednesday on his own to Milwaukee, where his availability to play against the Milwaukee Bucks will be reassessed. … Chicago G/F Jimmy Butler (left thumb sprain) and F Taj Gibson (left ankle sprain) were cleared to play. … Magic F/C Kyle O’Quinn missed his third straight game because of an ankle injury. … Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said F Channing Frye isn’t entirely recovered from an MCL sprain in his left knee but is still a valuable asset. “He can shoot the basketball from the perimeter, he makes defenses adjust to what he’s capable of doing and hopefully that (helps) the other athletes we have on our team,” Vaughn said. “He’s far from being 100 percent, but he’s giving us the minutes that he can right now.”
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