Pro basketball

Bulls survive on some magic of their own

2013-04-05T22:15:00Z 2013-04-09T23:20:09Z Bulls survive on some magic of their ownAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
April 05, 2013 10:15 pm  • 

CHICAGO | With seven games and little practice time remaining in the regular season, you might think Friday's game with the struggling Orlando Magic would be a coffee break.

And you'd be dead wrong.

Forget the Magic came in at 19-57 and had lost 22 of its 30 road games.

Or that it carries five rookies and eight players in all with two years or less experience.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau did -- and quickly.

“They're dangerous,” he said before the game. “They played very well at San Antonio the other night. They're young. They've been decimated with injuries. They've good some good, young players who can score the ball.”

More than two hours later, a sellout crowd of 22,268 at the United Center was squirming in its seats as Orlando finished on an 8-0 and could've won had Beno Udrih not stumbled and lost the ball on a drive to the basket.

Reserve Nate Robinson and Luol Deng led Chicago to the 87-86 win with 19 points apiece -- Robinson getting a dozen in the wild fourth quarter. Nazr Mohammed, once again filling in for Joakim Noah, had 11 rebounds as Thibodeau used only seven players.

"Nazy made some great plays. He's been playing big minutes and protecting the rim," Thibodeau said.

"There's 15 guys on a team and everybody has a role," Mohammed said. "You don't have to say anything to a guy who's been in the league as long as me. I'm always ready."

Udrih was the Orlando offense for three quarters with 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Nikola Vucevic had 16 points and 15 rebounds, four more than Tobias Harris.

East Chicago Central grad E'Twaun Moore finished with four points off the bench.

Robinson once again thrilled and frustrated fans and his coach by often jacking up shots at the most inopportune times.

"I'm not afraid to fail and you have to fail a lot to be successful in this league," Robinson said. "It just happens when I get hot. Thank God it happened at the right time and my teammates responded."

When was the last time you WERE afraid to take a shot?

"Probably the last time I've been to the doctor," Robinson said.

The Bulls were again without regulars Marco Belinelli (abdominal strain), Taj Gibson (left knee) and Noah (foot) – roughly 30 points a game.

Thibodeau said all are close to returning.

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