ORLANDO, Fla. — The matchup Sunday between the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic had the potential to be a preview of a possible second-round playoff pairing between two of the Eastern Conference’s top four teams.
Instead, with the Magic missing several pieces, it wound up providing the latest reason why Chicago’s Derrick Rose could be inching closer to his first MVP award.
Rose had 39 points and five assists, and Luol Deng added 15 points to help the Bulls hold off the Magic 102-99. Rose also was 10 for 10 at the foul line, which proved to be vital in staving off a late Magic charge.
Orlando’s Jameer Nelson appeared to tie it with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but an official review upheld an initial call of no basket. Ryan Anderson led the Magic with a career-high 28 points, Jason Richardson added 24 and Nelson had 17.
“We had them,” Rose said. “We should have easily put them away. But we continue to let teams come back. It’s going to hurt us if we continue to do this. But we’re definitely happy with this win. We’ve got to learn how to put teams away.”