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Boozer, Thibs trade verbal jabs as Kings hammer Bulls 99-70

Updated: February 4, 2014 10:39AM



SACRAMENTO – Tom Thibodeau often talks about the many distractions that can hit an NBA team.

One slammed into the Bulls head on Monday. All 6-foot-9, 266 pounds of it.

Upset with being in his warmups and a towel on his head far too often in the fourth quarter of games, especially as of late, Carlos Boozer sent a very direct message to Thibodeau.

“Nah, I think I should be out there, but it’s his choice, he makes the decisions out there, so I play, I don’t coach. He coaches. So he decides that,’’ Boozer said before the 99-70 blowout loss to Sacramento. “But honestly, he’s been doing that a lot since I’ve been here, not putting me in the fourth quarter. Sometimes we win, more times than not we don’t, but that’s his choice.’’

Asked how tough it’s been for him, especially considering Boozer could be an amnesty candidate after this season, Boozer replied, “Super tough, it’s very frustrating, especially when I’ve got a great game going or what have you. Obviously as a competitor you want to be out there to help your team win and especially when the game is close, you can do things that can help your team win. And not being out there, all you could do is really cheer them on, but that’s [Thibodeau’s] choice.’’

Actually, the way Thibodeau sees it, it’s Boozer making the choice. Made easier by performance. Taj Gibson is not only outperforming Boozer in the fourth defensively, but offensively, shooting 49 percent in the fourth quarter for the season, and 58 percent in the final quarter over the last five games.

Boozer, who finished with eight points on 4-for-15 shooting, did get fourth quarter minutes against the Kings, but the fact that Joakim Noah was booted from the game in the third was a big reason why. And Noah could expect a fine and likely suspension, considering after he was ejected he pointed toward each official and yelled “[expletive] you,’’ before being removed from the court.

“I have two guys that are deserving of being starters,’’ Thibodeau said. “I’m asking Taj to sacrifice not starting, and in some cases Carlos has to sacrifice not finishing.

“Sometimes you have to sacrifice what might be best for yourself for what’s best for the team. That’s what I love about Taj. Taj could be upset he’s not starting. He never complains. Whatever you ask him to do he just goes out there and does it. To me, what he does speaks volumes. He’s not talking about it. He’s going out there and doing it.’’

Thibodeau said he hadn’t read Boozer’s comments, but he definitely seemed awfully prepared to refute them, also pointing out that a calf injury cost Boozer a workout the other day.

As for Boozer, what could be playing into his frustration is the fact that he knows he is headed for amnesty this summer, and doesn’t want to look bad for perspective teams looking to grab him.

“Oh I can’t worry about that,’’ Boozer said. “I don’t know what peoples’ perception is, but the reality is it’s Thib’s decision. It is frustrating when you’re having a great game and you’re not out there to help your team win at the end of games.’’

As far as the two needing to sit down and discuss it, that didn’t seem to be in the cards just yet.

“He knows that,’’ Boozer replied, when asked if Thibodeau knew he wanted more minutes. “He’s aware of that.

“I think I’m very productive in the limited minutes that I am getting, so I can do even more if I was out there more. … I do want to be out there in the fourth quarter, let’s make that clear.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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