ORL
CHI

No Text

Valentine, Mirotic help Bulls top Magic for 7th straight win

CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bulls' offense has exploded with Nikola Mirotic back in the lineup.

Denzel Valentine had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Mirotic had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and the Bulls beat the Orlando Magic 112-94 on Wednesday night for their seventh straight win.

Chicago had lost 10 straight without Mirotic prior to his return from a facial fracture Dec. 8 and hasn't lost since to improve to 10-20. Behind a season-high 31 assists, the Bulls matched their longest winning streak in three years and sent Orlando to a sixth straight loss.

Nikola Vucevic scored 18 points for the Magic.

''We're improving the communication we didn't have before,'' said Mirotic, who missed the start of the season after teammate Bobby Portis punched him in October.

''Offensively playing finally the way we have to play, scoring a lot of points and sharing the ball, especially on fast breaks. It's been a lot of fun.''

The excitement began early for Chicago, which started on a 12-0 run. Facing the league's fourth-worst scoring defense, the Bulls' strong ball movement resulted in easy looks inside and out, and the team had assists on 10 of its first 15 shots.

Robin Lopez connected on his first four attempts for a team averaging 111.1 points per contest since Mirotic returned to the lineup - up from 95.7 points in 23 games without the forward.

Chicago took a 30-point lead with 8:17 left in the fourth quarter - its largest advantage of the season.

''The start was key,'' Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. ''I was really pleased with the way the guys came out of the gate.

''But the thing that pleases you most is the unselfishness.''

Chicago had six players score in double figures, including Kris Dunn with 15 points and Portis with 14.

Injury-riddled Orlando, which played without leading scorers Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon, struggled to keep pace. The Magic shot only 39 percent, including 5-of-27 on 3-point tries, en route to their 17th loss in 20 games.

''We've got to play really above ourselves right now to get a win,'' Orlando coach Frank Vogel said. ''We didn't play a great basketball game and the result is what it is.''

TIP-INS

Magic: Fournier and Gordon were out of action yet again. Each is tied for the team lead with an 18.3-point per game average. Fournier missed his sixth straight game with a sprained right ankle while Gordon didn't play for the fourth time in five contests because of a right calf strain. Guard Terrance Ross missed a 10th straight game due to a sprained right knee.

Bulls: Guard Zach LaVine, who is rehabbing from a February surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, has been held out of several practices due to back spasms but should return soon. ''Zach's doing great,'' Hoiberg said. ''He's back to really feeling good again and, hopefully, we'll get him back on the practice court whenever our next practice is.''

OUT AGAIN

Already short-handed, Orlando only got 13:50 of playing time from guard Jonathan Isaac before he re-injured a right ankle that previously kept him out of action for 17 games. Isaac, who averages 5.7 points per game, just returned in Sunday's loss at Detroit.

''Hopefully, it's not too bad,'' Vogel said. ''X-rays were negative and we'll see how he is tomorrow.''

GOING STREAKING

Chicago's seventh straight win is the longest-active winning streak in the Eastern Conference and is the best for the franchise since it rolled off seven in a row from Dec. 18-27, 2014.

''We lost 10 straight,'' Portis said. ''We had a chip on our shoulder. We were so close to winning some of the games, we lost by one and two. We kind of found a way to start winning those games down the stretch.''

UP NEXT

Magic: Hosts New Orleans on Friday night.

Bulls: At Cleveland on Thursday night.

---

More AP basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Copyright 2017 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
N. Vucevic
9 C
N. Mirotic
44 PF
26.2 Min. Per Game 26.2
20.3 Pts. Per Game 20.3
0.7 Ast. Per Game 0.7
7.3 Reb. Per Game 7.3
49.8 Field Goal % 52.2
49.9 Three Point % 51.2
82.6 Free Throw % 70.0
+ 3 Mario Hezonja made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Wesley Iwundu 0:15
  Offensive rebound by Wesley Iwundu 0:18
  Jamel Artis missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:21
  Bad pass turnover on Paul Zipser, stolen by Adreian Payne 0:27
  Offensive rebound by Denzel Valentine 0:39
  Quincy Pondexter missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:44
  Defensive rebound by Denzel Valentine 0:46
  Jamel Artis missed driving layup 0:48
  Defensive rebound by Adreian Payne 1:01
  Paul Zipser missed 3-pt. jump shot 1:05
+ 1 Adreian Payne made 2nd of 2 free throws 1:27
Team Stats
Points 94 112
Field Goals 35-89 (39.3%) 44-88 (50.0%)
3-Pointers 5-27 (18.5%) 11-33 (33.3%)
Free Throws 19-23 (82.6%) 13-14 (92.9%)
Total Rebounds 46 57
Offensive 6 9
Defensive 29 42
Team 11 6
Assists 23 31
Steals 5 6
Blocks 1 8
Turnovers 9 11
Fouls 15 23
Technicals 1 2
14 PTS, 6 REB, 8 AST
K. Dunn PG 32
15 PTS, 6 REB, 7 AST
1234T
away team logo Magic 11-21 2424182894
home team logo Bulls 10-20 31283122112
Team Stats
away team logo Magic 11-21 PPG RPG APG
home team logo Bulls 10-20 PPG RPG APG
Key Players
N. Vucevic C 16.5 PPG 9.2 RPG 3.4 APG 47.5 FG%
D. Valentine SF 10.2 PPG 5.1 RPG 3.2 APG 41.7 FG%
Top Scorers
N. Vucevic C 18 PTS 10 REB 5 AST
D. Valentine SF 16 PTS 10 REB 5 AST
39.3 FG% 50.0
18.5 3PT FG% 33.3
82.6 FT% 92.9
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
N. Vucevic 31 18 10 5 0 0 2 4 8/21 0/4 2/2 1 9 36 -13
E. Payton 30 14 6 8 1 0 0 3 7/13 0/2 0/1 2 4 37 -18
M. Hezonja 24 12 2 0 0 0 0 3 5/10 1/4 1/1 0 2 14 -6
J. Simmons 33 6 6 1 0 1 1 1 2/9 0/2 2/2 1 5 14 -22
W. Iwundu 19 2 3 1 0 0 0 1 1/5 0/2 0/0 2 1 7 -10
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
N. Vucevic 31 18 10 5 0 0 2 4 8/21 0/4 2/2 1 9 36 -13
E. Payton 30 14 6 8 1 0 0 3 7/13 0/2 0/1 2 4 37 -18
M. Hezonja 24 12 2 0 0 0 0 3 5/10 1/4 1/1 0 2 14 -6
J. Simmons 33 6 6 1 0 1 1 1 2/9 0/2 2/2 1 5 14 -22
W. Iwundu 19 2 3 1 0 0 0 1 1/5 0/2 0/0 2 1 7 -10
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
D. Augustin 28 14 0 1 3 0 3 1 3/6 3/5 5/5 0 0 16 -8
A. Payne 6 10 2 0 1 0 1 0 3/3 1/1 3/4 0 2 12 +10
S. Mack 17 5 3 3 0 0 2 1 0/3 0/1 5/6 0 3 12 0
J. Artis 15 4 3 2 0 0 0 0 2/8 0/3 0/0 0 3 11 +9
J. Isaac 13 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 2/5 0/1 0/0 0 0 6 -7
B. Biyombo 10 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1/1 0/0 1/2 0 0 3 -15
A. Afflalo 9 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 1/5 0/2 0/0 0 0 4 -10
M. Speights - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E. Fournier - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Ross - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Gordon - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Birch - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 235 94 35 23 5 1 9 15 35/89 5/27 19/23 6 29 172 -90
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
D. Valentine 28 16 10 5 1 0 1 2 6/9 3/4 1/2 2 8 36 +24
K. Dunn 24 15 6 7 3 1 2 3 6/11 0/3 3/3 1 5 37 +16
R. Lopez 26 10 7 1 0 2 0 1 5/11 0/0 0/0 2 5 21 +17
L. Markkanen 19 9 5 0 0 1 0 2 3/10 0/4 3/3 1 4 15 +17
J. Holiday 28 8 2 6 0 1 0 1 3/6 2/4 0/0 0 2 23 +23
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
D. Valentine 28 16 10 5 1 0 1 2 6/9 3/4 1/2 2 8 36 +24
K. Dunn 24 15 6 7 3 1 2 3 6/11 0/3 3/3 1 5 37 +16
R. Lopez 26 10 7 1 0 2 0 1 5/11 0/0 0/0 2 5 21 +17
L. Markkanen 19 9 5 0 0 1 0 2 3/10 0/4 3/3 1 4 15 +17
J. Holiday 28 8 2 6 0 1 0 1 3/6 2/4 0/0 0 2 23 +23
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
N. Mirotic 21 15 10 1 0 1 1 1 6/11 2/5 1/1 0 10 27 +11
B. Portis 14 14 5 2 0 0 1 1 4/9 2/5 4/4 1 4 22 +11
J. Grant 23 13 2 6 0 1 2 2 6/9 0/2 1/1 0 2 26 +2
P. Zipser 19 6 2 0 0 0 2 4 2/7 2/4 0/0 1 1 6 -5
D. Nwaba 19 4 2 3 2 0 1 4 2/2 0/0 0/0 1 1 13 -6
C. Felicio 6 2 0 0 0 1 1 1 1/1 0/0 0/0 0 0 2 -10
Q. Pondexter 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0/2 0/2 0/0 0 0 0 -10
C. Payne - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Z. LaVine - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Blakeney - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. Arcidiacono - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 233 112 51 31 6 8 11 23 44/88 11/33 13/14 9 42 228 +90