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Better Nate than never: Robinson’s big fourth sparks Bulls’ win over Magic

Chicago Bulls Vs Orlando Magic. 4Th Quarter Chicago Bulls fans celebrate Chicago Bulls No. 2 Nate Robins three point play

Chicago Bulls Vs Orlando Magic. 4Th Quarter Chicago Bulls fans celebrate Chicago Bulls No. 2 Nate Robinson three point play to give the Bulls the lead. Photo by Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 7, 2013 6:20AM



Either the Bulls willed their way to victory Friday night or the Orlando Magic willed its way to defeat. Regardless, at this point of the season, the shorthanded Bulls will take it.

With Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Marco Belinelli, Taj Gibson and Richard Hamilton out again, Nate Robinson sparked a fourth-quarter rally that carried the Bulls to an 87-86 victory over the lowly Magic before a sell-out crowd of 22,268 at the United Center.

Whatever the value of a home-court victory over a struggling Magic team that has lost 12 of 13 overall, 10 straight on the road and 20 straight against teams with winning records, Robinson gave the home crowd its money’s worth with a sensational effort.

Held to four points as the Bulls trailed by seven points late in the third quarter, Robinson hit a three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer, nailed another three to start the fourth and finished with 19 points as the Bulls (42-33) moved within one game of the Brooklyn Nets for fourth place in the Eastern Conference and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

‘‘It just happens,’’ Robinson said when asked about his penchant for igniting the team. ‘‘I thank God my teammates responded well. We played as hard as we could as long as we could and pulled out the victory.’’

Luol Deng scored 19 points, Kirk Hinrich added 13 and Jimmy Butler had 12. Carlos Boozer added 12 points and nine rebounds and Nazr Mohammed grabbed 11 rebounds for the Bulls. Vladimir Radmanovic added a huge three-pointer in the fourth-quarter rally and finished with seven points on 3-for-3 shooting.

Beno Udrih scored 27 points to lead the Magic, but, hounded mostly by Butler, was held scoreless in the fourth quarter after torching Hinrich for 18 points in the third.

‘‘It just seems that way, but my teammates are always there with me,’’ Butler said regarding his knack for shutting down high-scoring players. ‘‘Like I always say, it’s never, ever just me in any matchup, whether it’s a point guard or a post. My teammates are always there. I just get all the credit for it.’’

The Bulls, who hit two of their first 13 three-point attempts, hit six of their last seven. Deng hit a three-pointer to cut the Magic’s lead to 74-72, and Robinson tied the game with a drive. Robinson hit a three-pointer to give the Bulls a 77-74 lead with 8:25 to go. Deng hit another three to make it 82-78. And even Radmanovic joined the fun, hitting a three-pointer from the corner that brought the house down and gave the Bulls a 85-78 lead with 4:17 to go.

Robinson capped the stunning 24-8 rally with a fallaway 22-footer that hit nothing but net as Robinson was hitting the floor to give the Bulls an 87-78 lead with 3:50 to go.

The Magic (19-58) didn’t quit and got within 87-86 with 1:33 to play and had two chances to take the lead. But Boozer poked the ball away from Nikola Vucecvic on one possession, and Udrih lost the ball on a wild, spinning drive with 10 seconds left to clinch the victory for the Bulls.

With seven games left in the regular season, the Bulls face a quandary no matter how well they finish if they can’t get healthy. Rose’s status is ‘‘the same,’’ according to coach Tom Thibodeau, which is becoming more and more ominous with each game Rose misses. Noah (plantar fasciitis) and Belinelli (abdominal strain) are ‘‘close.’’ Gibson (sore knee) is anybody’s guess. And Hamilton (lower back) ‘‘has a ways to go.’’



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