LIVE: Bulls looking to make magic in Orlando

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LIVE: Bulls looking to make magic in Orlando

Friday, March 4, 2011
11:25 a.m.
Associated Press

Jason Richardson said earlier this week if the Orlando Magic want to be considered contenders, they had to impress during a three-game stretch against other strong teams from the Eastern Conference.

Through two of those games, they've managed to do just that despite only playing 48 good minutes.

A pair of furious second-half rallies have the Magic's winning streak at four heading into Friday night's visit from the Central Division-leading Chicago Bulls, who hope to put a second-half collapse behind them and avoid their sixth straight loss in Orlando.

The Magic (40-22) cruised past Oklahoma City and Charlotte after dropping their first game following the All-Star break, a loss to Sacramento that caused Dwight Howard to question his team's effort.

That led into a stretch of three games in four nights against New York, Miami and Chicago (41-18) that Orlando knew would be a serious measuring stick.

Richardson said Monday he saw the week as a chance for the Magic to "redeem themselves." That seems fitting given how the first two games have unfolded. Down 11 at halftime to the Knicks on Tuesday, Orlando scored 69 second-half points en route to a 116-110 win, though that comeback paled in comparison to what happened Thursday.

The Heat led 73-49 with nine minutes left in the third, but the Magic didn't pack it in. They ended the game on a 50-23 run - sparked by 17 of Richardson's team-high 24 points - to pull off a 99-96 shocker.

The comeback was the second-largest in franchise history and matched the NBA's second-biggest turnaround of the season.

"To tell you the truth, I didn't even know we were down that much," Orlando guard Jameer Nelson said. "I was just playing. I just think that's what you have to do when you know you can play better and you're not playing up to your potential. Just get it going somehow, not worry about the score."

The Bulls can certainly relate to what the Knicks and Heat went through against Orlando. Chicago led Atlanta 50-33 at halftime Wednesday before falling apart in the final 24 minutes, scoring just 30 points after the break and losing 83-80.

Derrick Rose, who missed 16 of his 21 shots and had six turnovers, accepted the blame.

"I made some careless passes," Rose said. "The game was definitely on me. ... But I guarantee it won't happen again."

Rose hasn't had much shooting success in a pair of home games against the Magic this season. He shot 5 of 13 as Orlando throttled the Bulls 107-78 on Dec. 1, then shot 6 of 21 in the rematch Jan. 28.

He finished with 22 points and 12 assists in that one, though, and Luol Deng scored a team-high 26 to lift Chicago to a 99-90 victory.

Howard had 40 points and 15 rebounds in the loss for the Magic.

The Bulls haven't visited Orlando since March 11, when they were without Deng and Joakim Noah in a 111-82 loss, their fifth straight in central Florida.

While Rose and Howard are clearly two of the league's top players, much of the success for the Bulls and Magic hinges on how Deng and Richardson, respectively, perform. Chicago is 23-5 when Deng scores 19 points or more, while Orlando is 18-5 when Richardson contributes at least 11 points.

Carlos Boozer's 24.6 points per game at Orlando since 2005-06 are his most in any visiting venue, though this is his first trip since joining the Bulls.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Doug McDermott to return for Bulls against Spurs after missing 11 games with concussion

Doug McDermott to return for Bulls against Spurs after missing 11 games with concussion

After a couple weeks of woozy moments, confusing car rides and 11 games of inactivity due to suffering a concussion Bulls forward Doug McDermott will return to action tonight against the San Antonio Spurs.

McDermott took a hard fall Nov. 12 against the Washington Wizards while going up for a dunk, hitting his head on the unforgiving floor of the United Center and had to go through the concussion protocol before finally being cleared. It was his second concussion this season, with the first coming on Halloween.

“Good, great, it’s been a long couple weeks, but finally feel good to be able to go out there and compete, so I’m excited,” McDermott said after morning shootaround at the Advocate Center.

The last couple of days after being cleared for contact, he practiced with the Bulls’ D-League team in the attempt to get some rhythm and most importantly, some conditioning after being out for so long.

He was in great spirits Thursday, a sharp contrast to the initial days after the concussion where the simplest tasks became herculean.

“The first week-and-a-half was tough sleeping-wise, just weird symptoms you don’t even realize,” McDermott said. “Just being in cars, going to my appointments was tough at times, some headaches throughout the week. But with a concussion you just have to be true to yourself and true to the doctors. You don’t want to lie about things because it can only make things worse. I’m finally to the point where I’m feeling better.”

McDermott said going to physical therapy or riding on the freeway would trigger vertigo in the first week, but luckily for him, it didn’t last much longer after that. The first concussion of his career took him to different place mentally, and he leaned on Celtics big man Al Horford during that time of confusion and frustration.

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Horford missed a number of games with a concussion he suffered early in the season.

“Talked to him for about 30 minutes,” McDermott said. “He was in the middle of his and I had my second one. We talked about our symptoms and he really took his time and you see his game has been really good since he came back.”

“We're really the only two guys who've had it this year. People don't really understand, it's a tough deal. Basketball can be physical. You see it a lot in football. You gotta be true to yourself, true to your doctors because you don't wanna mess around.”

With the second concussion taking place 13 days after the first, McDermott and the Bulls had to be a lot more careful the next time around. Having one is scary enough but the fall he took in the United Center probably ignited a fear in him that he didn’t know existed.

“Yeah, you have to just listen to your symptoms, but I think with the second one in such a short period of time they wanted to be cautious too, and I did too,” McDermott said. “It’s not like an ankle sprain or a knee deal where you can play through things like that. It’s your brain, so you want to be as sharp as possible.”

The Bulls need any type of reinforcement they can get, especially for the struggling bench. McDermott feels like he can add some confidence or at least put other guys in a more natural order, although that remains to be seen as Nikola Mirotic and Isaiah Canaan have really struggled in his absence — all season, it seems.

“I think we'll get our swagger back too. We've had some injuries,” McDermott said. “Once we get myself and Michael (Carter-Williams) back, we've been rotating guys that aren't used to playing with each other. Once we get some continuity there with that group, things will get better. Adding a shooter like me, it'll take pressure off Niko, take pressure off Isaiah to hit shots. Just having 3 floor spacers out there will really help all of us.”

Five Things to Watch: Bulls try to snap skid against Spurs on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Bulls try to snap skid against Spurs on CSN

Watch as the Bulls take on the Spurs tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com, the only place where you can get the hometown call from Neil and Stacey.

Coverage begins at 8 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Bulls.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1. Attempting to end perfection. The Spurs have been absolutely electric outside of San Antonio this season, winning each of their first 13 road games to begin the year. That's the second longest streak in NBA history, and the Bulls have actually lost two of three at home. The Bulls will be home underdogs as the Spurs look to make it 14 in a row. The good news is the Bulls have defeated the Spurs at home each of the last two seasons.

2. Battle of the two-way studs. There's a real argument to be made that Thursday's matchup will tout the two best two-way players in the NBA. Kawhi Leonard, the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is having his best offensive season to date, averaging 24.5 points on 46 percent shooting, 1.9 triples, and averaging nearly 91 percent from the free-throw line. Expect Jimmy Butler and Leonard to be on each other's rear most of the night in what should be one of the most fun 1-on-1 matchups in the NBA.

3. Questions at the point. For the Spurs, Tony Parker is questionable to play with a knee injury. If he can't go, it would be Nico Laprovittola and Patty Mills running the point. For the Bulls, Rajon Rondo is coming off a pair of ugly performances in Bulls' losses to the Mavericks and Pistons (and his suspension against the Blazers). Someone needs to step up at the point, and it could decide Thursday night's winner.

4. Pau returns to the UC. Though it didn't result in much success, Pau Gasol enjoyed two highly successful seasons in Chicago. The stat-stuffer was named an All-Star in both seasons, averaging 17.6 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 150 games. He's now in San Antonio, filling Tim Duncan's role in the starting lineup. And though his numvers are down from a year ago, he's still capable of putting up numbers, especially against a Bulls' interior that has struggled of late.

5. Getting Doug McDermott back. Dougie McBuckets has been activated to the Bulls roster, and not a moment too soon. Since McDermott suffered a concussion on Nov. 12, the Bulls bench ranks 26th in 3-pointers per game (2.5) and 30th in 3-point field-goal percentage (23.5 percent). Getting McDermott back, even in a small role as he gets his legs under him, will be a major factor against a Spurs team whose offense continues to heat up in December.

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