Bulls’ Carlos Boozer showing plenty of resolve
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media January 15, 2013 10:21PM
Bulls forward Carlos Boozer shoots over Atlanta forward Josh Smith in the second quarter of the Chicago Bulls-Atlanta Hawks NBA game Monday January 14, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
He’s No. 1
Entering Wednesday, Carlos Boozer was 12th in the league in rebounds, averaging 9.7
per game. The leader was Dwight Howard of the Lakers (12.5). But among Eastern Conference forwards, Boozer was the best:
1. Boozer 9.7
2. Tristan Thompson, Cavs 9.2
3. Reggie Evans, Nets 8.8
4. Josh Smith, Hawks 8.3
5. LeBron James, Heat 8.2
6. David West, Pacers 8.0
Here’s where Boozer ranked in the NBA in other categories:
Scoring 15.5 43rd
FG% 48.0% 40th
Updated: January 15, 2013 11:02PM
When the Bulls lost the LeBron James sweepstakes in the summer of 2010, their consolation prize was Carlos Boozer.
But it hasn’t been until recently that the organization could feel like it had won something.
The high-priced forward has been a disappointment in two-plus seasons with the Bulls. In the last two seasons, Boozer has posted his worst scoring outputs since his first two years in the league, drawing calls for the amnesty of his contract, which runs through the 2014-15 season.
However, Boozer has made good on what he called his New Year’s resolution, which was simply to play better.
He has scored at least 20 points in five of the Bulls’ seven games in 2013 and has posted double-digit rebounds in all but one. On Jan. 2 in Orlando, Boozer scored a season-high 31 points.
“I feel great, just [doing] whatever it takes to win,” Boozer said. ‘‘We’re doing a good job of moving the ball. Rebounding very well.
“Just a New Year’s resolution. Being more efficient and playing better.”
Boozer amicably discussed the Bulls’ solid play of late, which has coincided with his emergence as a consistent scorer.
But when questions turned to his history and how he has been able to overcome the cynicism that has surrounded his play, his answers turned salty in a news conference that he ended after one minute, 23 seconds.
“I’m a pro,” Boozer said. “Been here for a while. Just keep playing.”
His sensibilities aside, he needs to maintain his level of play for the Bulls to make a run in the Eastern Conference, even when Derrick Rose returns.
“We’re a much better team when we play through him and when we establish him in the post, and we have to continue to search him out,” coach Tom Thibodeau said.
While Boozer previously has shown flashes of the player who earned the megadeal he signed in 2010, Thibodeau gave reason to believe he finally had found his stride in a Bulls uniform.
During his first training camp, Boozer broke his hand and was out for more than a month to start the season. Last season Boozer wasn’t given the benefit of a full training camp because of the league’s lockout.
Not until this season has Boozer gone through a full training camp and a normal NBA schedule.
Perhaps as a result, Boozer’s game has been more dynamic, and he has had more time playing in Thibodeau’s offense.
He’s more aggressive in taking the ball to the basket and more fluid in pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll situations.
“In this league, there’s always something, whether it’s injury or the lockout,” Thibodeau said. “Whatever the circumstances are, I think there is a benefit to him having been here for three years. I think his teammates understand him better, he understands them, he knows where his opportunities are going to come from, and I think our players understand that he is very unselfish. Put the ball into the post and you cut and you’re open, he’s going to hit you. That’s the way he plays the game. He plays the game the right way. So we know how important he is to us.”