Stung by an embarrassing loss to lowly Charlotte earlier in the week, the Orlando Magic responded in the best possible fashion with a 99-94 win over the NBA-leading Bulls in Chicago on Thursday.
Dwight Howard powered his way to 29 points and 18 rebounds as the Magic made amends for Tuesday`s 16-point defeat to the Bobcats and put an end to the Bulls` eight-game winning streak.
Orlando (26-15) led by as much as 18 in the first half but found themselves trailing 91-89 with two minutes remaining when Howard dunked to tie the score and Ryan Anderson reeled off five straight points to help the visitors secure the win.
"We took the loss (to Charlotte) hard," Anderson told reporters. "This was a big win. We wanted to show how good we are."
It was an important win for the Magic, who have a testing schedule ahead and also approach next week`s trade deadline amid speculation over the future of franchise player Howard, who is set to become a free agent in the off-season.
Carlos Boozer led Chicago with 26 points while Derrick Rose struggled to just 17 and made only 6-of-22 shots from the field. One night earlier, Rose made a shot as time expired to help the Bulls beat Milwaukee but he could not rescue them this time.
The Bulls (33-9) had not lost since February 18 and still have a 1 1/2 Eastern Conference lead over the Miami Heat.
The home team climbed out of their early deficit by ending the first half with a 15-3 run. Boozer scored his team`s first eight points of the fourth and they eventually nudged in front but could not make the shots down the stretch.
"Kyle (Korver) had some wide open shots, his shot," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I can live with that all day."