CHICAGO | Maybe the Orlando Magic won't be comedy club material this season.
With a roster featuring such forgettable names as Kyle O'Quinn, Nikola Vucevic, Ish Smith, Josh McRoberts, Gustavo Ayon, Hedo Turkoglu, Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson and DeQuan Jones, few were predicting a postseason berth for the franchise that traded perennial all-star Dwight Howard to the Lakers.
Oh, they still had Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Arron Afflalo – and East Chicago's E'Twaun Moore – but could they carry the load for 82 games?
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau wasn't ready to bet against them.
“We're gonna have to guard 'em with a five-man mentality,” Thibodeau said before Tuesday's game. “If you allow them to get going early and they get their confidence, you'll be in for a long night.
“You gotta be ready from the start.”
The Bulls (3-1) weren't, trailed most of the way, and needed a 31-23 fourth quarter surge to slip past the Magic, 99-93.
Luol Deng led the way with 23 points on 9-for-16 shooting, Joakim Noah added 20 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots, and Chicago's bench outscored Orlando's 29-14 as Taj Gibson and Nate Robinson combined for 23 points.
"Energy. We got stops. We just fought and found a way," Noah said of the decisive final quarter. "It was sloppy but a win.
"Right now, we have to find ways of getting better. Maybe by playoffs, we'll have this thing figured out. I'm just out there working, trying to represent the city like we all are."
Afflalo's 28 points topped the Magic (2-1), who got 17 from Moore, including 3-of-4 shooting beyond the arc.
"It's about winning as a team," said Moore, who had only one turnover in almost 33 minutes.
“We have to play hard,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. “That's the only way we have a chance every night to put a 'W' in the column – play together and extremely hard.”
Orlando was up 70-68 after three quarters but a 12-2 run to open the fourth gave Chicago needed breathing room it didn't relinquish.