What the Bulls have shown since he left, though, is that there is still plenty of fight left in the players that remain on the roster.
“The only thing it defines is us going on a plane right now a lot happier,” Noah said. “There’s nothing better than winning a basketball game. It feels good. We know we didn’t play great basketball tonight but we found a way.
“We came back from the dead, a lot of people stepped up.”
The game featured 20 lead changes and 14 ties and lasted just over 3 hours. Nine players logged over 40 minutes. That included Chicago’s Jimmy Butter, who played a franchise-record 60 minutes and finished with 21 points.
Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said Noah was a key throughout.
“There’s not many players like him,” Thibodeau said. His all-around defense, every aspect, the rebounding effort, to seeing things early (and) how they’re developing… It’s just great effort.”
Orlando came into the game in desperate need of a win coming off a 0-5 road trip. The Magic played one of their best games of the season but it wasn’t enough as they extended their season-high losing streak to nine games.
Victor Oladipo had a career-high 35 points and Jameer Nelson added 31 points and 10 assists for Orlando. Tobias Harris added 22 points and 16 rebounds.
“I was more mad than exhausted,” said Oladipo, who played a team-high 57 minutes. “I’m more mad than exhausted right now. But it’s a short turnaround, so you have to have a short-term memory.”
What made Orlando’s effort even more surprising is that it played without starters Arron Afflalo and Nik Vucevic. Afflalo missed his third straight game with a strained right foot, and Vucevic was out for the fifth straight with a concussion.
During their recent road trip, the Magic were tripped up by those injuries.