ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – One game after setting a franchise record for career triple-doubles with 4, Elfrid Payton added to his total on Wednesday night at Amway Center leading the Orlando Magic to a 98-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
Payton had 22 points, a career-high 14 rebounds and tied his career high with 14 assists in the victory. His all-around effort also included two steals and a team-high two blocks in the game as well.
“Back-to-back triple doubles, that is very impressive and he did it in three quarters. I am very proud of the kid. Like I said, he has had some ups and downs this year, but he really put together two of his best performances of the year and you used the word–it was about his will.” – Orlando Head Coach Frank Vogel on Elfrid Payton’s performance
The match ended Orlando’s two-game losing streak and it was a damaging loss for the Bulls since they are holding on the seventh position in the Eastern Conference playoff race. It was the team’s third loss in a row.
The Bulls, who played without Dwayne Wade (strained left quadriceps), got off to a hot start led by All-Star Jimmy Butler. Butler scored 13 of his team high 21 points in the opening half and the Bulls led at the half by the score of 53-43. Chicago’s 3-point shooting was the reason why they held the lead in the opening 24 minutes. Chicago, who entered the game as one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the league, hit 7 of its 12 attempts in the opening half.
In the third quarter, however, Orlando stormed back by using a solid team defensive effort on Butler and executing on offense. With Payton attacking the rim, it allowed the rest of the starters to get going on the offensive side of the ball. The Magic outscored the Bulls 34-24 in the 3rd quarter and the score was tied at 77 going into the final quarter.
“That’s the way we have to play; defensively, I thought we were more focused and more intense.” – Orlando shooting guard Evan Fournier on the team’s defensive intensity
The final quarter was one of the better defensive quarters the Magic have had all season. They held Chicago to 14 total points in the final 12 minutes. Orlando’s defense led by Evan Fournier’s effort on Butler (0-5 shooting), held the Bulls to 5 for 23 shooting in the fourth.
“[We] just missed shots… That’s been the story of the past few games. They made shots, got some stops… as simple as that.” – Chicago forward Jimmy Butler
The Magic improve their record to 24-41 on the season and the Bulls fall to 31-33. Orlando will return to Amway Center on Saturday night to take on LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the defending champion the Cleveland Cavaliers at 7pm.
Points of Interest:
- Payton (6) and Fournier (3) had as many offensive rebounds as the entire Bulls team. (Chicago finished with 9)
- Without their leading rebounder Nikola Vucevic (10.1 per game) for the 2nd game in a row, Orlando out-rebounded the NBA’s 4th best rebounding team 48-44
- Payton is averaging 13 points, 9.1 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game since the All-Star break
Danny Thompson is a contributing sports reporter for Florida National News. He can also be found over at NBA Full Court Press Radio.