The Chicago Bulls dominated the start of the fourth quarter to beat the Orlando Magic 99-93 on Tuesday in a matchup of two teams trying to adjust to playing without last season’s All Stars.
Luol Deng scored eight of his team-high 23 in the fourth quarter, where reserve Nate Robinson also provided a spark to quickly erase a three-point deficit and take the game by the horns.
“I think we wanted it more,” Robinson said after scoring seven of his 11 points in the final period. “Coach said to do whatever it takes to get the win.”
The Bulls were able to improve to 3-1 this season, where they are without 2010 and last year’s MVP Derrick Rose, sidelined indefinitely after tearing knee ligaments during last season’s playoffs.
The Magic, rebuilding following the trade of Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers, suffered their first loss of the season despite 28 points from Arron Afflalo.
In a tightly contested game, Orlando grabbed a 71-68 lead after the third quarter before Chicago opened the fourth with a 12-2 run.
Robinson and Deng traded critical jump shots during the scoring run to position the Bulls for victory.
Joakim Noah had 20 points, nine rebounds and five blocks for the Bulls, while Carlos Boozer added 12 points and eight rebounds.
Glen Davis, who had been carrying the Orlando offense and entered the game with a 25.5 points per game, could not find his range and made just seven of 22 shots.
He ended up with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Magic are playing through injuries and were without point guard Jameer Nelson, who missed a second successive game with leg injuries. Forward Hedo Turkoglu is also out after breaking his hand in the season opener.
“There’s no All-Stars on this team,” Davis said. “Any night, anybody can be our star. We need to help each other and tonight we kind of got away from it a little bit.”
THUNDER 108, RAPTORS 88
In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Russell Westbrook shrugged off a sore shoulder to score 19 points and Oklahoma City 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 minutes left in the second quarter with a right ankle sprain and did not return.
Serge Ibaka added 17 points for Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant and reserve Kevin Martin each scored 15.
The Thunder led by as many as 29 points and never trailed after Durant converted a pair of free throws with 7:44 remaining in the first quarter. Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks rested his starters in the fourth as the Thunder improved to 2-2 with their highest-scoring game of the season.
Jonas Valanciunas led the Raptors with 18 points.
NUGGETS 109, PISTONS 97
In Denver, Colorado, Andre Iguodala scored six of his 17 points over the final 3 minutes to help Denver hold off Detroit and snap a three-game skid.
The Nuggets broke out their new canary-yellow uniforms for their home opener and played pretty snazzy, especially late in the third quarter when they began opening up a 17-point lead.
The Pistons rallied late, before Iguodala closed the door with two baskets and a pair of free throws. He also finished with 10 rebounds.
Greg Monroe scored 27 points for the Pistons, who dropped their fourth straight. Detroit and Washington (0-2) are the only winless teams in the NBA.