Combined with Philadelphia's win over Charlotte, Orlando is 2½
games out of the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff
berth with seven games remaining. The Magic have lost three of
four, and Grant Hill is out indefinitely with a sore left shin.
"It may look bleak, but I've seen stranger things happen,"
Orlando coach Chris Jent said. "But we can't keep saying that."
Hill, who has missed three straight games, underwent a CT scan
earlier Wednesday and the team hopes to know the results Thursday.
Orlando general manager John Weisbrod said the pain in the shin
isn't related to the ankle woes that sidelined Hill for most of the
previous three seasons.
The Bulls' victory came on the heels of a loss at Miami on
Tuesday, which snapped their nine-game winning streak. Chicago now
has a one-game lead over Washington for fourth place after the
Wizards lost 105-93 to Detroit.
After Ben Gordon missed a runner on Chicago's final possession,
Antonio Davis rebounded and was fouled by Kelvin Cato on the
put-back try. Davis, shooting 74 percent from the line this season,
missed the first then swished the second.
"After missing the first one you don't feel good about the
second one," said Davis, finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
"But you step up, relax and shoot it the same way.
"Once it went down I felt good, but you have to play defense
because Stevie Francis has shown time and time again that he can
score the ball with 1.9 seconds or whatever the case may be."
But Francis never got the ball. Orlando's bid for victory in its
first overtime game of the season didn't come close, as Jameer
Nelson's wild 3-pointer missed everything.
Francis had 28 points and 11 assists for the Magic, while Nelson
added 18 points and eight rebounds.
Dwight Howard had 14 points, 15 rebounds and a season-high seven
blocks. The Magic blocked 15 shots, a season best.
Orlando, running and rebounding with vigor, opened an early
16-point lead. Howard had a three-point play off a fast break, and
followed that with a fast-break dunk for a 23-7 lead.
Meanwhile, Chicago missed 16 of its first 19 shots.
"That first quarter was about as bad as we've played," Chicago
coach Scott Skiles said.
Howard had eight rebounds early in the second quarter, only to
pick up his second and third fouls over the next two minutes. That
sent him to the bench, and the Bulls took advantage with a 23-10
tear over the next eight minutes to take the lead.
The teams were tied 49-all at halftime.
The Bulls are 3-1 in overtime. ... Orlando was the last
team in the league to play an overtime game this season ... Chicago
center Eddy Curry (irregular heartbeat) missed his fourth
consecutive game, while Othella Harrington (wife giving birth)
wasn't with the team for a second straight game. ... The last time
Orlando lost a season series to Chicago was the 1997-98 season.
Also, the Bulls hadn't won three straight games in Orlando since
January 1991-January 1993, when they took four in a row. ...
Francis was hit with a technical foul, his 21st, midway through the
third quarter. ... Later in the period, Cato received a technical
for shoving Andres Nocioni.