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Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012

Deng, Bulls hand Magic first defeat


CHICAGO — For nearly three quarters, the Orlando Magic looked like the team that has been the surprise of young NBA season.

News photo
My ball: Detroit's Jason Maxiell (54) tries to keep possession against the Nuggets on Tuesday. AP

Then, the Chicago Bulls found the right mix.

Luol Deng scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half to lead the Bulls to a 99-93 win over Orlando on Tuesday night, the Magic's first loss of the season.

Deng and Nate Robinson keyed a 15-2 second-half burst when Chicago turned a five-point deficit into an eight-point lead. Robinson hit two straight jumpers to put Chicago ahead 74-70 early in the fourth, the Bulls' first lead since midway through the third period.

"We executed well," Deng said. "I thought Nate did a good job of looking for his shot and running the plays we were calling."

Deng teamed with fellow starter Joakim Noah and three reserves for most of the run, with Robinson, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson making key contributions.

"The guys we had in, Taj and Jimmy, gave us a big lift," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Nate also was really good out there. I thought in the second half, we played a lot harder."

Noah had 20 points, nine rebounds and five blocks for Chicago, while Robinson added 11 points and six assists off the bench. Robinson's layup with 2:35 to play put Chicago up 91-81, its biggest lead of the game.

"(Winning is) all that counts, but we need to play better," Noah said. "This isn't going to cut it against a better team. We've just got to keep fighting.

"They're an underrated team. I feel like they've got a lot of offensive firepower, they spread the floor," he added. "It was a good win tonight."

Arron Afflalo led the Magic with 28 points, 19 in the second half. E'Twaun Moore added a career-high 17 points.

"Our lull offensively gave them an opportunity to hit some shots in the fourth quarter," Afflalo said. "It's unfortunate, because it was a game I thought we could have won."

Glen Davis, who entered the game fourth in the NBA with 25.5 points per game, scored 16 points but shot just 7 of 22 from the floor and fouled out.

"The Bulls did a good job of getting us out of our stuff," Davis said. "You have to give them credit. They're a great defensive team."

Thunder 108, Raptors 88

In Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook shrugged off a sore shoulder to score 19 points and the Thunder cruised past Toronto.

Wearing a black padded sleeve to protect his bruised left shoulder, Westbrook held Toronto's leading scorer, Kyle Lowry, to two points on 1-of-4 shooting. Lowry exited with 1:29 left in the second quarter with a right ankle sprain and did not return.

Nuggets 109, Pistons 97

In Denver, Andre Iguodala scored six of his 17 points over the final 3 minutes to help the Nuggets hold off Detroit and snap a three-game skid.

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