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Bulls’ eight-game winning streak disappears in loss to Magic

Bulls guard Derrick Rose splits Magic defense as he drives basket. Rose was held 6-for-22 shooting for game. | Tom

Bulls guard Derrick Rose splits the Magic defense as he drives to the basket. Rose was held to 6-for-22 shooting for the game. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times photo

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Updated: April 10, 2012 11:53AM

So much speculation has swirled about where Dwight Howard might land that it’s easy to forget how dangerous the Orlando Magic can be as constructed.

When Howard dominates inside and the Magic’s sharpshooters spot up behind the arc, the floor seems twice its normal size. The Bulls know that firsthand after Howard and the Magic snapped their eight-game winning streak with a 99-94 victory Thursday night at the United Center.

“You have to commit everyone to the middle because [Howard is] so dominant in the paint,” Derrick Rose said. “They’re a tough team to guard. They’re probably the only team in the league that runs that type of offense.”

The Magic made 15 of its first 20 shots, went 6-for-8 from long range in the first quarter and opened up an 18-point lead that the Bulls were unable to overcome in their fourth game in five nights.

The Bulls fought back in the second half and led 91-89 with 2:55 left, but a dunk by Howard (29 points, 18 rebounds) and a three-pointer by Ryan Anderson helped a Magic team that outrebounded the Bulls 49-40 hang on.

Carlos Boozer played Howard for much of the game and was effective with his physical play. With Rose and Luol Deng struggling from the field, Boozer took over down the stretch offensively, finishing with 26 points and seven rebounds. He scored 12 in the fourth quarter in what might have been his best all-around game of the ­season.

“Booze was huge for us,” Joakim Noah said. “He gave us a chance to stay in the game. He played great defense on Dwight and made shots.”

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said he didn’t know if cold shooting by several Bulls was the result of his team’s defense or whether it was one of those nights when, for whatever reason, shots don’t fall.

Rose and Deng combined to score 22 and shoot 7-for-31 from the field, 1-for-9 by Deng. Rose had 17 points and nine assists.

“I couldn’t get a feel,” Rose said. “It was kind of weird not getting my layups or getting into the groove of the game. You try to learn from it. I was just missing. All my shots were short.”

Kyle Korver was only 1-for-7 from beyond the three-point line and missed several wide-open threes.

“Kyle getting an open look, there’s no better offense than that in the entire NBA,” Noah said. “I don’t care what anybody says.”

Rose was still beating buzzers 24 hours after his 20-foot jumper gave the Bulls a dramatic victory in ­Milwaukee. His deep three-pointer as the horn blew ending the first half punctuated a 15-2 run and helped the Bulls pull to within 57-52. They knotted the score late in the third and led late but seemed to be a shot or two away from going ahead to stay.

Noah had nine points and 10 rebounds, and Taj Gibson had 14 points. Jason Richardson scored 18 for the Magic and Hedo Turkoglu added 13 and six rebounds.

“We’ve got to be ready to play,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “That comes back on me. I have to get them ready to play. We got in a hole we shouldn’t have been in.”

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