There shouldn't be so much effort required to defeat a team riding an eight-game losing streak and missing its best two players.
But the Bulls needed three overtimes to knock off Orlando 128-125 on Wednesday night at the Amway Center. They trailed by 15 points midway through the third quarter, then appeared to have the game won a couple of times at the end.
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"It was a good win," coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after the game. "We've got to get our defense together, but anytime you get a win on the road it's good."
There were several notable performances for the Bulls, mainly Jimmy Butler, who set a franchise record by playing 60 minutes and 20 seconds.
According to Bulls stat guru Jeff Mangurten, it was the longest stint for any NBA player since March 2001 when Jalen Rose played 61 minutes for Indiana against Houston. Butler (21 points) broke the Bulls' previous record of 59 minutes, set by Ron Mercer in a double-overtime loss at Charlotte on Jan. 9, 2001.
Butler's performance was so remarkable, it inspired a joke from Thibodeau.
"Jimmy, 60 minutes -- named after the TV show, I guess," Thibodeau said. "He was awesome, battled the whole time."
Also notable for the Bulls (18-19) was center Joakim Noah, who finished with 26 points, 19 rebounds and 6 assists in 49 minutes. Carlos Boozer was questionable with an illness earlier in the day, but he scored an efficient 23 points without seeing the floor in the fourth quarter or overtimes. D.J. Augustin went most of the way at point guard, producing 19 points and 9 assists.
One of the biggest heroes for the Bulls, though, was rookie Tony Snell, who displayed an impressive array of offense in the three overtimes. He hit 3-pointers, drove the lane for a monster dunk and his 20-foot pullup jumper with 48.6 seconds left in the third OT turned out to be the game-winner.
Snell scored all 15 of his points in the fourth quarter and overtimes.
Mike Dunleavy came off the bench to drain a tying 3-pointer with 13 seconds left in the first overtime. Orlando (10-29) had a couple of game-saving shots -- a 20-footer by point guard Jameer Nelson with 11 seconds left in regulation and a 3-pointer by Glen Davis with four seconds remaining in the second overtime.
Noah had a good contest on each of those jumpers. The Magic was missing guard Arron Afflalo and center Nikola Vukevic.
Meanwhile, Magic rookie Victor Oladipo made a strong case for NBA rookie of the year by pouring in 35 points, the highest total by a rookie this season. Oladipo attacked the basket aggressively against Butler and added 8 assists.
The Bulls managed to limit Oladipo to 2 points in the three overtimes, and the former Indiana star piled up 8 turnovers.
After the game, Butler told reporters he could barely move. After a game like this, there's concern for the lingering turf-toe injury on his right foot. For the moment, though, everything was good.
"We're grimy and we play as a team," Butler said. "There is no guy that doesn't give all the effort on every single play. Whenever you play like that, good things happen. The basketball gods will reward you."
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