Chicago Bulls vs. Orlando Magic: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Chicago
The Bulls righted the ship after two straight losses dropped them into the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference. With another win in their season finale, there is still a chance they can climb into the No. 5 slot.
Chicago started integrating some of their injured players back into the fold against Orlando, with Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Richard Hamilton all active and in the second unit.
It wouldn't take much more than their current starters to get the job done anyway, as Carlos Boozer's 22 points and six boards led the way. He was joined in the frontcourt by Luol Deng's 18 points and eight assists, as the Bulls cruised to victory No. 44 on the season.
Nikola Vucevic continued to prove himself an NBA star at the center position, with 17 points and 14 rebounds, but the Magic are too decimated by injuries to be much of a threat to playoff teams.
With one game remaining against the Washington Wizards on April 17, the Bulls are gearing up for a postseason run.
Let's hit the Bleacher Report classroom and see how they graded out in this win.
Kirk Hinrich, CHI PG: B+
When Kirk Hinrich's shots are falling, he is one of the most competent guards in the NBA. That hasn't always been the case this season, but against the Orlando Magic, Hinrich was on.
His long-range trigger was perfectly calibrated for the first time in a while, as Hinrich went 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. He was 5-of-8 total for 14 points and four assists.
Hinrich lucked out in a way, by not having to face Jameer Nelson, who has given him trouble in the past. Instead, he got to tussle with Beno Udrih and E'Twaun Moore. They are far lesser threats whom Hinrich was able to bottle up and come away with three steals.
This was another solid outing for Hinrich as the Bulls' starting point guard. While they certainly would prefer to have Derrick Rose back for the postseason, they can't complain too much with Hinrich at the helm.
Marco Belinelli, CHI SG: B
Marco Belinelli came back to the floor for the Chicago Bulls on April 7, but he didn't fully return until this April 15 performance against the Orlando Magic.
Belinelli hit a pair of threes and scored eight points in the first four minutes of the second half, really damaging the Magic's chance at a comeback. He wound up with 14 huge points in the quarter, pulling away from the Magic almost single-handedly.
Outside of that third quarter, Belinelli was pretty quiet. He finished with 16 points, only scoring one basket outside the third. He did little else on the floor, coming up with a pair of assists.
Still, that third quarter is a promise to Bulls fans that he can come through with big situational performances. If he can take over a couple playoff quarters like he did against the Magic, he'll be immensely valuable to this team.
Jimmy Butler, CHI SF: B+
Even though Joakim Noah returned to the Chicago Bulls' lineup, he was still limited in time and effectiveness. That left the Bulls vulnerable to a rebounding onslaught by the Orlando Magic.
Jimmy Butler took charge in that category, finishing with 10 boards to keep the Bulls within four boards of the Magic. That meant a fairly equal number of shots per team, giving Chicago the advantage.
Butler posted eight points and five assists as well. Even though his shot wasn't falling and he finished 2-of-7, Butler had a profound impact on the game in his 38 minutes. There are few NBA players who can say the same thing when they aren't scoring.
Butler's swarming defense helped force the Magic into far too many one-on-one plays and isolations. His speed helped his fellow defenders lag and still keep up with Orlando's offense.
Luol Deng, CHI PF: A-
Luol Deng continues to be a cure for whatever ails the Chicago Bulls.
Against the Orlando Magic, that cure was efficient scoring and steady distribution. By choosing his spots carefully and intelligently, Deng was able to hit on 8-of-11 from the field, for 18 points, while dishing out eight assists.
Deng had a monster first half, going for 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. The second half was when he started to see more attention from the Magic defense, which led to some superb passing.
He provided pretty close to everything the Bulls needed for a win, featuring a platter of stat-packing. That included four rebounds, a pair of threes and two blocked shots.
There appear to be no kinks in Deng's game heading into the postseason, no matter who his teammates turn out to be.
Carlos Boozer, CHI C: A-
As he has been doing on a consistent basis since Joakim Noah went down, Carlos Boozer handled himself and the team's frontcourt.
Boozer had a game-high 22 points on 11-of-15 shooting, to go along with six rebounds and four assists. That was his best Noah impersonation, and it was a hit.
The one concern was the lack of consistent rebounding. The last time he had fewer than seven rebounds was on March 3. He was also held completely off the offensive glass, though the Bulls did shoot 56 percent from the field.
As is becoming a regular thing across the NBA, Boozer was picked apart by Nikola Vucevic. He went for 17 points and 14 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive glass. Vucevic is becoming a star in the league, so this is through little fault of Boozer.
If he can maintain this high level of play while Noah is reinserted into the starting lineup, the Bulls will be in good shape to dominate the paint come playoff time.
Nate Robinson, CHI PG: B-
Robinson did not score in the first half, but his three assists contributed to an outstanding half of Chicago ball movement. The Bulls assisted on 16-of-19 buckets before the intermission.
He seems to have developed a nice offensive report with most of his teammates. He connected with Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng on back-to-back assists in the fourth quarter.
Contrary to the usual rule that Robinson is not effective when not scoring, he had himself a decent game with only two points. Despite taking only two shots, Robinson was able to grab five rebounds and dole out seven assists off the bench.
His five turnovers are definitely a concern, but they are a bit of an occupational hazard that comes with playing Robinson big minutes.
Chicago Bulls Bench: B
The Bulls bench had some new additions, trying to work their way back into the swing of things before the playoffs begin.
Joakim Noah had missed 12 of his last 13 games prior to the game against the Orlando Magic. His numbers seemed great when adjusted for 14 minutes of playing time. Noah finished with six points and five boards in his return.
Richard Hamilton, who returned for three games after an extended absence, was out of the lineup on Sunday, but back in Monday night. He still has a long way to go before becoming a valuable member of this team. Hamilton proved that with another poor shooting night, going 1-of-5 from the field.
Taj Gibson has been dealing with a knee injury and missed seven straight games before returning to face the Magic. He was very active, taking 11 shots in just 21 minutes, coming away with 12 points and a couple blocked shots.
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