“We played great,” Deng said. “Guys got easy looks because of the ball movement. The thing we did well is, even when they made their run, we responded right away,” Deng said. “It was just a great team effort.”
Carlos Boozer added 20 points and Taj Gibson chipped in 19 for Chicago. Josh Smith led Atlanta with 19 but had only six after halftime.
“It’s been pretty remarkable, with all the guys that have gone down, to have the record that we do,” Chicago’s Kyle Korver said. “Obviously, we’d rather have Derrick playing. But guys keep stepping up.”
“The last couple of games, they beat us in the paint, so we focused on that. But they came out and made shots,” Atlanta’sJeff Teague said. “Everybody was hitting shots, from the point guards to the forwards. Not much you can do about that.”
Elsewhere in Eastern Conference action, New York, despite being short-handed as well (no Amare Stoudamire or Jeremy Lin), pounded Orlando 108-86. Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert each had 25 points to lead the knicks, who at one time led by a whopping 39 points in this game.
The win marked the first time the Knicks have been above .500 since their 6-5 start. They are now 26-25 having won 8 of 9 since Coach Mark D’Antoni resigned.
“I said this at the top, as a coach I’m always interested in when you’re short-handed who’s going to step up and make plays? And we’re getting it from everybody and that to me is a sign of a good, quality team that wants to win,” interim coach Mike Woodson said.
“Right now, with the coaching change, we’ve been playing extremely well,” Anthony said. “Guys seem to be responding pretty well. We’ve been really locked in on our mission right now.”
“They’re playing small and we got crushed on the boards. That to me is the one that tells me that the effort wasn’t there. When you give up 16 offensive rebounds to a team that’s playing small, that that’s an effort problem,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.
The Magic’s Dwight Howard was held to 12 points. His last visit to the Garden saw him leave with 8 points. Much credit has to go to Knicks center Tyson Chandler for shutting down D-12.