Boozer's big night should silence critics - for now


Boozer's big night should silence critics - for now

MIAMI -- "I dont know if that small ball is going to workagainst us," Joakim Noah exclaimed, over the din of the jubilant visitinglocker room at American Airlines Arena. "Not with a guy like Carlos Boozer inthe game."

Following Boozers 27-point, 12-rebound outing in theBulls' 96-89 road win Friday night over the defending-champion Heat, Noah'sstatement rang true. The Bulls dominated the Heat on the glass to the tune ofa 48-28 margin as well as outscoring them in the paint, 46-34, and notching 20second-chance points to Miamis seven.

RELATED: Boozer, Bulls shock defending-champion Heat

Boozer was a huge part of that, but his effort set the tone. From the opening tip, the much-malignedpower forward battled -- on both ends of the court, evidenced by his late strip ofHeat big man Chris Bosh -- and even made important hustle plays to ensure that theBulls earned their biggest victory of the season. For the offseason Miamiresident, it might have been his most memorable performance -- certainly in thatparticular arena, at least in a Bulls uniform -- in a long while and thatscoming off a season-high scoring effort in Wednesdays win at Orlando

"I love it playing in front of my family. I had 70 peopleout there -- family, friends. Its good to get a win out there in front of all mypeople. It was fun," Boozer said before explaining why he was soproductive Friday. "Thibs coming to me, playing off my teammates, trying to beaggressive, trying to make the most of my shots, trying to be more efficient. Ihavent been really as efficient this year; trying to be more efficient in theNew Year.

It wasnt just me, it was everybody who was diving forloose balls, scrapping and thats how were going to have to play," he said. "Were stillshort-handed. Until weve got everybody back, were playing short-handed. Wevegot to scrap a lot of games to have a chance to win and we had some scrapperstoday. My New Years resolution of being more efficient andgetting more wins is working out so far."

His coaches and teammates certainly took note of thenew-and-improved Boozer, who looked like a man possessed -- or rather, a manamongst boys against the smallish Heat -- as he pounded the glass, ran the courtwith abandon and finished with force. If his past two outings are any indicationof what 2013 will bring, the entire Bulls frontcourt might have a case forAll-Star candidacy.

"'Los was big all night. He played huge for us. He canscore so well around the basket. But overall, I think that it was a great winfor us," Noah said. "He played very well defensively, as well, was very active with hishands and that was huge for us. That play when he dove on thefloor, caught it and he passed it to Taj, and he got fouled, I thought thatprobably was the play of the game. It was just hustle. We outhustled them."

WATCH: Noah says this is biggest win of the year

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau concurred: He was great.Hes been playing very well at both ends, getting good post position, executingthe pick-and-roll well."

WATCH: Thibodau praises Bulls effort against Heat

In short, Boozer looked like the player thatChicago expected when he arrived in2010. Glimpses have appeared since hes been in the black and red, and oftentimes hes criticized unfairly even when he does play well. But if Boozercontinues to play like this, as far as effort -- if not numbers -- those jeers willturn to cheers and Booz wont be mistaken for boos.

Doug McDermott, Kyle Korver return to Creighton for NBA preseason game

Doug McDermott, Kyle Korver return to Creighton for NBA preseason game

Competing in Nebraska may have been foreign for most Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks players, but Doug McDermott and Kyle Korver were right at home. 

The veterans, who both starred at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., returned to their college stomping grounds for NBA preseason action Thursday night. Korver's Hawks got the best of McDermott's Bulls, 97-81, on Creighton's home floor.

Both had illustrious careers for the Blue Jays basketball squad. McDermott, who graduated in 2014, won the Wooden Award his senior season and is the all-time leading scorer. Korver, as you may have guessed, holds the school record for most three-pointers made. Fans at Thursday's game got a flashback from these glory days, as both logged significant minutes and put up offensive numbers. 

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McDermott didn't have his best shooting night, but knocked down two triples and finished with 16 points. Korver also scored 16, splashing in four from beyond the arc. 

Afterwards, McDermott thanked the Omaha faithful via Twitter.

With the loss, the Bulls' preseason ends with a record of 3-4. They open regular season play on Oct. 27 against the Boston Celtics. 


Bulls drop preseason finale to Dwight Howard, Hawks

Bulls drop preseason finale to Dwight Howard, Hawks

OMAHA, Neb. — Dwight Howard had 16 points and 15 rebounds in a 97-81 win over the Bulls.

Kyle Korver, who played at Creighton, also scored 16 points as Atlanta finished the preseason 5-2.

Jimmy Butler scored 16 points as Chicago wrapped up exhibition play at 3-4.

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HAWKS: Kent Bazemore had 15 points and nine rebounds. ... Korver made four 3-pointers.

BULLS: Doug McDermott, another former Creighton star playing in his college arena, scored 16 points but shot 5 for 15. ... Dwyane Wade (3 for 14) and Rajon Rondo (1 for 7) combined for just 11 points. Both had six assists.

UP NEXT: Atlanta (5-2) hosts Washington next Thursday in its season opener. Chicago (3-4) also opens Thursday against Boston.