Boozer scores season-high 36 points in Bulls’ 107-105 OT win over Raptors
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org January 16, 2013 9:50PM
Joakim Noah; Amir Johnson; Carlos Booze
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Updated: February 19, 2013 2:24PM
TORONTO — Where is Luol Deng’s confidence these days?
“Louie? Oh, man, we got a ton of confidence in Louie hitting big shots,’’ Bulls center Joakim Noah said after the 107-105 overtime victory Wednesday against the Raptors. “He told me even before he hit the shot, ‘Let’s go home now. I’m going to hit this shot, and let’s go home.’ ’’
Deng also sent 18,674 disappointed Raptors fans home. They watched Deng do his best Derrick Rose impersonation, hitting an 18-footer with 3.3 seconds left to help the Bulls improve to 22-15 and 10-1 against Eastern Conference teams on the road.
“It’s just maturing and being in the league for a while now,’’ Deng said. ‘‘I know what I can do and what I can’t do. When it comes to the last minutes in a game, I’m not as worried or concerned with what I might do as I used to be. There are a few things I do well, and I’m going to stick with them. I’m not going to get out of character, close game or not a close game.’’
Through the first 31/2 quarters, it wasn’t a close game. The Bulls rode the broad shoulders of Carlos Boozer (season-high 36 points) to build a 19-point lead.
But the Bulls have a habit of letting teams creep back into games.
“Things weren’t going our way, but we showed composure and stuck together,’’ Noah said. “We didn’t play our best basketball, but we’re happy we got the win.’’
The victory was in doubt several times.
Toronto had a chance for a desperation shot at the end of regulation that could’ve won the game, but it was fumbled away. Then Jose Calderon’s three-point attempt at the horn went just long, kicking off the back of the rim.
Before Deng made the game-winner, Thibodeau had a different play called. He used another timeout and changed it up to make sure Deng had the ball in his hands.
“We changed [the play]; Luol had a great read,’’ Thibodeau said. “Great shot. The guy gives you whatever you need. You need the big shot, he does that. That’s who he is; that’s what makes him such a great player.’’
Not to be lost amid Deng’s heroics was the play of Boozer.
He was a force in the first half with 25 points and was a big reason the Bulls had that huge lead to begin with.
“Boozer has been great,’’ Deng said. “He’s playing well for us. When we get points in the paint like that, it opens it up for everyone. We’ve done a good job that whenever someone has got it going, keep feeding them, keep them going.’’
Boozer downplayed his night, moving the focus to Deng.
“He’s hit big shots the whole time I’ve been here,’’ Boozer said. “Even when we had Derrick, he still hit big shots.’’