The Magic spent the second half of this season bemoaning the absence of a backup center behind Dwight Howard.
They may have had one all along.
Filling in as the starter Sunday while Howard served his one-game suspension, Ryan Anderson made a statement that he is more than capable of filling whatever role is asked of him.
Normally the backup at power forward, Anderson almost carried the Magic to an upset victory against Chicago, which has the best record in the Eastern Conference.
The two teams are expected to meet again in the second round of the playoffs. Howard will be starting, but Anderson may be playing a more prominent role than originally expected.
He was effective against the Bulls because it caused a problem for Chicago center Joakim Noah and power forward Carlos Boozer, who were reluctant to chase him out on the perimeter.
Anderson scored a career high 28 points -- and hit four of eight shots from three-point range -- while grabbing 10 rebounds. He had seven offensive rebounds in a very impressive performance. He was active around the basket, proving that he can provide significant help to Howard as a rebounder.
He came into the game averaging 10.2 points and 5.3 rebounds. His role has grown considerably since the Magic traded forward Rashard Lewis to Washington and Marcin Gortat to Phoenix in December, but he still remained mostly a backup.
BULLS 102, MAGIC 99: With Dwight Howard serving his one-game suspension, the Magic fell short when Bulls guard Derrick Rose dominated play. Rose had 39 points. The Magic got a career-high 28 points from Ryan Anderson, who started in place of Howard at center. The game included a three-pointer by Jameer Nelson as time expired at halftime. Nelson hit another three-pointer that could have sent the game into overtime, but it was ruled too late by officials. Jason Richardson had 24 points for the Magic, who allowed the Bulls to hit 60 percent of their shots. The Bulls won despite 21 turnovers.
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