A player or two tried to get a hand on him, but by the time they found the energy to lift their arms, Fizer was already at the hoop. Four games in five nights had definitely taken their toll.
"We played like we were on fumes,'' Orlando coach Doc Rivers said after the Chicago Bulls' 107-87 victory over the Magic. "All those jump shots off the front of the rim and their guys beat us off the dribble all night. It was tough to watch.''
"We have no sympathy for a team that is missing their key guys or playing their fourth game in five nights because that's something we've been dealing with,'' Rose said. "And when you put up the standings, that doesn't matter.''
No, but it certainly makes it tougher to win. Not only were the
Magic playing the second half of a back-to-back and their fourth in
five nights, they were short-handed with Grant Hill (sore ankle)
and Horace Grant (back spasms) sitting out.
Orlando shot just 35 percent, including a horrid 7-of-28 from 3-point range, and turned the ball over 18 times. They barely had the energy to play defense in the fourth quarter, giving up several easy drives to the basket.
"It's not easy with four games so close, but we can't use any
excuses,'' McGrady said. "These guys just came out and attacked
The Bulls looked sloppy at times -- they had 16 turnovers and
missed some unbelievably easy shots -- but they still managed to
shoot 54 percent. It's the second straight game they've shot better
than 50 percent, a first for the year.
They got contributions from everyone, too. Five players finished in double figures. Jay Williams had 13 points and six assists, and Tyson Chandler added seven rebounds off the bench. Jamal Crawford had 12 on 3-of-6 shooting, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
"We talk about the bench building on what the first unit has accomplished,'' Fizer said. "For me, I just try to stay focused and be faster than my man. I try to score over the top of him, and today that worked.''
The Magic had several long scoring droughts during the game, and
the Bulls took advantage of them. In the second quarter, Rose hit a
jump hook to spark a 28-7 run that gave the Bulls a 56-33 lead with
2:32 left in the half.
But the Bulls got a little sloppy and let the Magic back into
the game. McGrady hit a 17-footer, and the Magic were off on a 9-1
run that cut Chicago's lead to 57-43 at the half.
They pared the lead to single figures several times in the third
quarter, including a layup by Mike Miller that made it 74-65 with
2:11 left in the third. But Rose hit a 3-pointer and a short
jumper, and the Magic were out of gas.
"I really just think our team is understanding, `Wow, we're missing shots, we've got to find ways to make shots.' Or find ways to get stops,'' Rose said. "That's just learning.''
They made just one field goal in the first 5½ minutes of the fourth, while Chicago went on a 3-point spree. Rose and Crawford hit back-to-back 3s, and Fizer converted a three-point play to give the Bulls a 91-71 lead with 6:39 to play. Orlando never got close again.
"December is going to say a lot about our season from the
competitive standpoint,'' Rose said. "We are a different team than
the past few years.''
Hill and Rose go back a long, long way. The two first
played each other in an under-13 AAU tournament. Though Rose's team
-- the Detroit SuperFriends -- had Chris Webber and Voshon Lenard,
Hill's team beat them by 40 points. "I'll tell you this,'' Hill
said, laughing, "if we had an alumni game, they'd definitely
win.'' ... Hill has never played against the Bulls as a member of the
Orlando Magic. ... The Bulls are 3-0 when they shoot 50 percent.