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Bulls ride Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler to 100-92 win over Magic

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Dwyane Wade trusts his natural feel for the game when it’s time to defer and allow Jimmy Butler to take over down the stretch.

The 14-year veteran guard also knows when his new team needs more of him late in the games. He sensed it Tuesday night, scoring seven of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to propel the Chicago Bulls to 100-92 road win over the struggling Orlando Magic.

It was the second straight game that Wade took over in the fourth quarter to lead Chicago to victory.

“Each game is different and it calls for something different,” Wade said of how he and Butler play off each other. “Like I said earlier in the year, I think we are both more dynamic when we are both able to score.”

Both took turns in the fourth as the Bulls pulled away in otherwise close game. Butler scored six of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as they took turns pulling up for jumpers and driving to the basket against a Magic team that was playing without three of its top four guards.

But Wade just seemed to have a little more energy as he played the role of scorer and facilitator in setting up his teammates for easy baskets throughout the fourth quarter.

“He’s been huge lately,” Butler said. “He’s taking and making shots, tough ones at that, passing the ball to the open guy. Me and him both decided to miss a couple of wide-open layups tonight, that’s part of it. But he has been huge.”

His performance took a little pressure off Jerian Grant, who was inserted back into the starting lineup at point guard before the game. Wade’s vision also played a part in backup center Cristiano Felicio‘s 12-point, 10-rebound performance.

“He is obviously a guy who can get it going at any time,” Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said of Wade. “He had three big buckets going into halftime to get him some confidence and little rhythm and then was awesome in the fourth quarter to close the game.”

TIP-INS

Bulls: Chicago shook up its point guard position before Tuesday night’s game. Grant replaced Carter-Williams in the starting lineup. Hoiberg said Carter-Williams, who didn’t play, has been demoted and will come off the bench and did not immediately name a backup, although Rajon Rondo was the first off the bench.

Magic: Injuries caused the Magic to shuffle their starting lineup for the second game in a row. With Augustin out with an ankle injury from Sunday’s loss to Golden State, Vogel shifted C.J. Watson, who started at shooting guard Sunday, to backup point guard and coming off the bench. Jeff Green and Aaron Gordon both started at the wings to match up better against Butler and Wade, Vogel said. Fournier, the starting shooting guard, missed his sixth straight game with a sore right foot. …The MRI on Augustin’s sprained ankle came back negative but he is listed as day-to-day. … Meeks had surgery on his right thumb Tuesday morning and is out indefinitely.

DEPLETED BACKCOURT

With Evan Fournier, Jodie Meeks and D.J. Augustin all out with injuries, the Magic’s backcourt struggled.

That was most evident in the 19 turnovers the team committed. Point guard Elfrid Payton, who had to play 38 minutes because of the lack at the position, committed eight of the costly turnovers.

“Well, they’re good at turning teams over and we know we can’t over penetrate,” said Orlando coach Frank Vogel. “But we’re missing our shooting guards so it’s a little bit of a challenge with what we have in terms of perimeter shooting.”

MAN IN THE MIDDLE

Felicio, who struggled with catching the ball in the paint early in the season, thrived underneath most of the night when Chicago went to its smaller lineup.

He defended Nikola Vucevic decently in the paint and when Butler and Wade found him for lobs inside he made good, converting four of six.

UP NEXT

Bulls: Chicago returns home to take on the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

Magic: Orlando hits the road for a three-game stretch with Boston as the first stop on Friday night.

Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala cleared to play vs. Pelican Friday

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Without Draymond Green in the fourth quarter Tuesday night in the opener, and with Andre Iguodala out for the game, the Warriors defense fell apart against Houston. The Rockets scored 34 points in the quarter and came from behind to beat a Warriors team that had been in control of the game up to that point. There was more to it than just Green’s balky knee, but without the Defensive Player of the Year they are not the same.

Bad news for the Pelicans: Green and Iguodala have been cleared to play in New Orleans Friday. Green had an MRI and it came back negative.

Green admitted he was concerned that the injury, via Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Now it is the Pelicans who should be concerned. The Warriors will want to wash the feeling of that opening night loss off them.

Report: Kevin Love was frustrated with move to center

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With Derrick Rose having to start at point guard (until Isiah Thomas returns sometime in early 2018) and Dwyane Wade starting at the two, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue had no choice but to move Kevin Love to starting at center. The Cavaliers desperately need the floor spacing to open up driving lanes and options for LeBron James. Start Tristan Thompson at the five (with Love at the four and Jae Crowder coming off the bench) and it adds another non-shooter to the mix that allows opposing defenses to just pack the paint and force LeBron to be a jump shooter.

That doesn’t mean everyone liked the change.

Love admitted to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer he was frustrated with the move at first.

“It’s been a little bit of a change for me,” Love admitted. “I still find myself spacing a little bit wanting to roll a little bit more and on the defensive end just playing the primary big on their team the whole time on the defensive end. It’s been a little bit different figuring things out on that end, but it comes with the growth I’m talking about. We need to do that and hopefully be a machine when things start clicking.”

Lue put it this way.

“We’re going to try it out and see how it works. He was frustrated at first, but now he’s enjoying it.”

While in certain matchups, when the opposition has a more traditional center, the Cavs may go back to the Love/Thompson front line for a stretch. But the small ball lineup is the way Cleveland should be leaning, even with its clear defensive deficiencies. We saw that in the opener with Love’s dagger three in the fourth quarter.

Love is adjusting, he’s already sacrificed a lot to play with LeBron. This is just another step in that evolution.

Another wing down? Celtics’ Marcus Smart likely out vs. Sixers

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The horrific, probably season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward has left the Celtics with a shortage of players on the wing.

Going up against Philadelphia Friday night, that might be getting worse, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

Looking at the pictures, I doubt Smart plays.

As noted, Smart said he hurt both ankles in the second night of a back-to-back against Milwaukee, the left one in a collision with teammate Jaylen Brown. Smart started that game and played 32 minutes. That’s a lot of time to go to lesser players.

If he’s out Friday, that likely means either Terry Rozier or Abdel Nader get the start, and both are going to see a healthy bump in minutes. Whatever happens, the Celtics would miss Smart in a game where they need to defend Ben Simmons on the wing.

What happened to Willy Hernangomez’s minutes with Knicks?

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When talking about the Knicks’ young core going forward, Willy Hernangomez was one of the names that got mentioned by the front office (alongside players such asFrank Ntilikina and Tim Hardaway Jr.). The Knicks are crowded at the center spot — Enes Kanter got the start in the opener Thursday night, and Kristaps Porzingis should get minutes there (it’s ultimately going to be his NBA position), and this isn’t even mentioning Joakim Noah — but Hernangomez looked like a developing young player who needed some run.

He got just 3:46 minutes in the opener, and that was during fourth quarter garbage time. Kyle O'Quinn got nearly 22 off the bench at the five. That follows a preseason where Hernangomez saw his minutes drop seemingly game-to-game.

What gives? Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News asked the same question.

“We have a lot of bigs,” Hornacek said. “(O’Quinn) and Enes earned the minutes in training camp. Willy’s not far behind. He’s got to keep working. When you got that many bigs, you can’t play them all. The other guys earned the minutes. I told all three of them it doesn’t matter if you’re in the rotation or out of rotation. If you’re in it, you’ve got to earn it to keep it.”

“I can score. It’s not difficult for me. I think the coach wants to see my effort on defense. That’s why I have to keep working hard everyday,” said Hernangomez, who is also Kristaps Porzingis’ best friend on the Knicks.

Without question, Hernangomez needs to work on his defense, but then again this is a Knicks team starting Kanter so it’s obviously not a requirement.

Hornacek needs to find a balance here — it’s early in the season, he wants to win games, he wants to put his best foot forward. But the Knicks are not a playoff team this season, and they are in the player development business. That means Hernangomez — as well as rookie point guard Ntilikina — need to get minutes, need to be thrown to the wolves a little, and need to learn from their mistakes. Hornacek needs to be coaching for a few years down the line… the problem is he knows he may not have this job that far down the line, so he’s coaching to get wins now.