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Carlos Boozer takes step forward

Chicago Bulls guard Richard 'Rip' Hamiltplays his first game as Bull an exhibititilt against Indian Pacers Tuesday December 20 2011

Chicago Bulls guard Richard "Rip" Hamilton plays his first game as a Bull in an exhibition tilt against the Indian a Pacers Tuesday December 20, 2011 at the United Center . | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 22, 2012 8:19AM

Forward Carlos Boozer was scoring inside and outside, grabbing rebounds and passing to teammates for easy baskets. It was the kind of performance that can make fans begin to forget about his often-ineffective play last postseason.

Boozer earned a measure of redemption after a mediocre exhibition opener by scoring a team-high 24 points to go with seven rebounds and three assists in the Bulls’ 93-85 victory Tuesday against the Indiana Pacers at the United Center.

‘‘This is the way he has been practicing in training camp,’’ coach

Tom Thibodeau said. ‘‘He’s done a great job of running the floor. He’s in great shape, so I’m not surprised by his play.’’Guard

Derrick Rose said Boozer’s struggles in the first exhibition game might have been the result of the longer-than-normal offseason.

‘‘We haven’t played basketball in a very long time,’’ Rose said. ‘‘I
don’t think he’s played since the Miami series [in the Eastern Conference finals last season]. He’s just been working out.

‘‘It’s the same for me; I don’t play pickup. I’ve just been working out, so getting into the rhythm of the game is difficult.’’

‘Anything to win’

Rose, the reigning NBA most valuable player, scored only 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting to go with nine assists. That’s 13 points less than he averaged last season — not that he cares.

‘‘I’m a winner,’’ Rose said. ‘‘That’s the way I think of myself. Anything to win. If that means me passing, that’s just what it is.

‘‘Being in this situation, I know the team is going to give me the ball, but I’m not rushing anything. If anything, I’d love to have a game like this every night, especially when my teammates are happy.’’

Pencil him in

Expect guard Rip Hamilton’s first start in a Bulls uniform to be the first of many.

‘‘We’re going to see how everything goes,’’ Thibodeau said when he was asked whether Hamilton will start the regular-season opener Christmas Day against the Los Angeles Lakers. ‘‘We’re still trying to figure out what’s best for the team. As of now, that’s what we’re planning on. We’ll just see how it goes.’’ Guard

Ronnie Brewer started the exhibition opener but played with the second team Tuesday. He finished with 11 points.

Pregame jitters

When asked if he would be nervous before playing his first home game at the United Center, Hamilton said he has been nervous before every game during his
12-year career.

Hamilton got a taste of the reception he can expect from Bulls fans when the team hosted an event for season-ticket holders Monday.

‘‘At the autograph session, a lot of fans said, ‘I used to hate you, but now I love you,’  ’’ Hamilton said, laughing. ‘‘It’s a love-hate type of thing, but I’m glad to be on this side of it.’’

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