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RECAP: Nikola Vucevic scores 43 to help Magic fend off Bulls

Feb 5, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Denzel Valentine (45) shoots the ball between Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier (10) and center Khem Birch (24) as Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) looks on during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Nikola Vucevic scored a career-high 43 points and grabbed a season-high 19 rebounds, and the Orlando Magic recovered from giving up a big fourth-quarter lead to hold off the Chicago Bulls, 123-119, Friday in Orlando, Fla.

Vucevic started hot, scoring 13 points in the game’s first 3:05. Chicago’s Zach LaVine finished hot, however, notching 24 of his team-high 26 points in the fourth quarter to power a Bulls rally that fell just short.

Chicago chipped away at a deficit of as many as 14 points in the final period with a 14-4 stretch over 4:45 to force a 112-112 tie. Vucevic responded with a mid-range jumper and snared a crucial defensive rebound in a quick, 5-0 burst that gave the Magic enough cushion to escape with the win.

Vucevic reached his new career high with two free throws to seal the win in the closing seconds.

Evan Fournier scored four of his 20 points in the final 1:21, and Cole Anthony made three free throws in the last minute, part of his 17-point night. Anthony also dished a game-high nine assists.

James Ennis III added 14 points for the Magic, including a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line, and Frank Mason III — added to Orlando’s roster on Wednesday — scored four points with four assists off the bench.

Friday’s victory snapped Orlando’s four-game losing streak.

Despite shooting 47.9 percent from the floor, five Bulls scored in double figures. Coby White recorded 16 points, Denzel Valentine and Thaddeus Young added 14 and 15 points off the bench, and Lauri Markkanen finished with 13 points. Markkanen was limited to just 17 minutes, clutching his shoulder after a collision in the first half.

Patrick Williams, the youngest player currently in the NBA at 19 years, scored a career-high 20 points in the loss.

The two teams play again in the second leg of a back-to-back Saturday in Orlando.

–Field Level Media