It was Zach LaVine Monday with a little late magic to save the Bulls in a 105-101 victory over the Orlando Magic.
LaVine overplayed an inbounds pass with 15.2 seconds left and the score tied at 101 after the Bulls had lost an 18-point lead earlier in the fourth quarter. LaVine made the steal and fast break for a dunk. Orlando had one more chance and missed a three.
The Bulls raised their record to 20-36. Orlando is 18-38.
The Bulls were led by Lauri Markkanen with 21 points. Bobby Portis had 19 points off the bench. LaVine had 18 points. Jerian Grant had 14 points, seven assists and six rebounds and Denzel Valentine had 11 points.
The Bulls remained without Kris Dunn. New acquisition Noah Vonleh was active, but still not playing until he practiced with the team. The Magic were only playing one starter from the start of the season with Elfrid Payton traded and Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross out. Only Evan Fornier was starting from the opening of the season. LaVine was back for the Bulls after sitting out Saturday for back to back rest. It was an indifferent start befitting the mood of uncertainty with the lineups. Orlando started missing six of seven shots with a pair of turnovers while the Bulls missed five of eight with a turnover. It was 8-8 with almost six minutes gone when both teams showed up. Orlando made seven consecutive shots while Grant and Markkanen got going for the Bulls. Grant made his four shots with four assists, three rebounds and a steal in an excellent quarter. The Bulls obviously made it a priority to find Markkanen, who was four of six for eight points mostly scoring inside, as the Bulls led 30-27 after one quarter. Both teams finished the quarter shooting more than 50 percent with six lead changes in the quarter and eight ties. Orlando took an early second quarter lead. The Bulls got that back with scores from Portis and Valentine to go ahead 44-40 with five minutes left in the half. The Bulls were having success with high/low actions to Markkanen inside as he went on to lead the Bulls with 13 first half points as the Bulls took a 53-51 halftime lead with former Bulls D.J. Augustin’s bringing Orlando within two. It was a slow paced first half with each team scoring four points on fast breaks.
Lavine and Justin Holiday got early threes in the third quarter for a 67-59 lead, Holiday’s when he ball faked and turned his defender around before retreating for a three. The Bulls looked like they might pull with multiple offensive rebounds, but could not score on those possessions. Then they sent the Magic into a timeout after nifty driving scores by Markkanen and Grant for a 73-64 lead with 3:35 left in the third quarter. But the Magic closed with a 7-2 run on a pair of inside scores and went into the fourth quarter with the Bulls leading 77-71. The Bulls appeared to put the game out of reach three minutes into the fourth quarter with a 16-4 start to the quarter for a 93-75 lead. That run culminated with four points from Valentine, including finishing a fast break with a dunk, his first in the NBA, on a pass from LaVine. Valentine then mimed the old Howard Hughes Spruce Goose wide winged plane sailing back to the bench with his teammates as Orlando sought a pause. But despite the relative insignificance of the game with neither team in playoff contention, the Magic reappeared in the game with a 9-0 run to cut their deficit to single digits. And then scoring on seven consecutive possessions, the Magic with a 16-1 run overall drew within 94-91 with 5:10 left in the game. Talk about a lead disappearing. Orlando finally took a 101-98 lead on a Mario Hezonja three that was matched by Portis with 2:29 left. Neither team scored again until LaVine’s dunk with 12.4 seconds left.