Orlando Magic have defeated the Chicago Bulls by the final score of 98-91 with the game going back and forth.
The star of the show was Magic’s point guard Elfrid Payton, who had his best game of his career. Payton was just flat out on a another level as he recorded his second triple double in back to back games as he had 22 points, a career high 14 assists, and a career high 14 rebounds. Payton currently has the most triple doubles in franchise history. He is also the only player in Magic history to have back to back triple doubles as well. Orlando Magic head Coach Frank Vogel on Payton’s will in tonight’s game.
“Wow, back to back triple doubles, that is very very impressive and he did it in three quarters,” Vogel said. “Very proud of the kid. He’s had some ups and downs this year but really put together two of his best performances of the year and it was about his will.”
Another thing about how Payton stood out was the assist numbers. He was running the offense fluently as he had 14 assists as mentioned before but he had six in the third quarter that really stood out. Coach Vogel talked about his vision and how he executed the offensive game-plan after the game.
“Space helps everyone and his game in terms of attacking the paint and we’ve been on him about just making the right reads,” Vogel said. “Especially with a lead shot blocker like Robin Lopez in there, to get in there to create and he did a great job following that plan and create for others.”
In the first half, the Magic got off to a slow start on the offensive side of the ball as the Magic shot only 7-20 (35%) in the first quarter and shot only 39% from the field for the half. The start of the second quarter was more of the same as the Bulls got on a 12-2 run to start the quarter and was hitting shot after shot as their field goal percentage was 51% at the half, 58.3% from beyond the arc.
In the second half, the defense started to pick up as they only allowed 38 in the half, 14 in the fourth and the Bulls were held under 40% shooting. Coach Vogel on the better defensive effort in the second half and the way the defense closed out the game.
“I was proud of how they closed the game out tonight,” Vogel said. “I loved the energy we came out with in the third quarter on both ends of the floor. Defensively, we picked it up on both ends and closing out a game, that’s a part of what we’re trying to get accomplished here is all these little things that go into making winning plays.”
The Magic also did a great job in containing Bulls star player Jimmy Butler. Butler had his way in the first half by scoring 13 points that included a last second buzzer beating three pointer to end half. In the second half however, Butler was held to only eight points on 3-12 shooting and they only allowed Butler to go to the line five times. Evan Fournier was responsible for guarding Butler most of the night. Coach Vogel on containing Butler for most of the game.
“He [Evan Fournier} did a great on him,” Vogel said. “So you have to give credit to him. But the team is following sort of our new plan on the defensive end. If we got an elite scorer like that, how were going to bring help, minimize the post mismatch and just compete on the ball and these guys did a good job of following the plan. You got only five free throw attempts for Butler is a great team effort.”
After Payton’s career night, the Magic are now 24-41 on the season. They will have a quick turnaround as they will be heading to Charlotte and play against the Hornets on Friday before coming back on Saturday and facing the defending NBA champions in the Cleveland Cavaliers.