Carlos Boozer responded to being snubbed for the Eastern Conference All-Star team in the best way possible Friday night, with a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds in the Bulls 103-87 win over the Warriors at the United Center.
Boozer got the Bulls going early and had a dominant first-half outing to help the hosts run out to a huge early advantage. After the game, the power forward claimed that while he was disappointed in not being selected, hes fine with taking a mini-vacation next month.
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At the end of the day, weve got two guys representing us and Im super proud of Joakim and Luol. Obviously I wanted to be in there, too, Boozer said. But Im going to go home to Miami. Im going to come back with a great tan, make all you guys the media jealous.
Joakim Noah, who was selected as a reserve for the East, didnt let his newfound All-Star status go to his head. Instead, the center delivered a vintage performance, scoring 14 points, snatching 16 rebounds, dishing out four assists and blocking three shots, while forcing his former Florida teammate, David Lee, named a Western Conference All-Star reserve Thursday evening, into a 6-for-15 shooting night.
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I was just playing my game. Its not about that. I just wanted to play with high energy and play my game. I still feel like I could have done things better tonight, but its a great honor to be part of the All-Star game, Noah explained. But its not the reason why I play the game of basketball.
Jimmy Butler, the third member of the Bulls starting frontcourt, kept up his solid play in place of the injured Luol Deng the recently named back-to-back All-Star missed his fourth consecutive game with a strained right hamstring with a 16-point, 12-rebound outing, earning the praise of Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.
Hes a pro. Hes a good player. Hes hard playing and I think he can do a lot better, too. But I love his toughness. He competes on every play, hes not afraid. Guys like that can continue to get better, so I want him to stay hungry, keep improving, the coach observed. But he has shown, even last year, in the opportunities that he got, he played well and hes doing the same thing now.
Thibodeau was positive about the efforts of the entire frontline trio, who each notched a double-double the first time the Bulls have achieved the feat this season also lauding the way Boozer and Noah played.
Its huge. Jo was terrific. Offense, defense, rebounding, energy, he said. Carlos, I thought his rebounding and just his presence inside, his cutting, his screening led to fouls, which got us to the free-throw line some, too. But it got us established inside and opened some things up for us.
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Perhaps more significantly, the team is clearly finding its groove, even without the services of Deng and the still-sidelined Derrick Rose, making the Bulls a scary postseason proposition as the season continues.
Obviously theres a lot of room for improvement, but I think our intentions have always been good and its just sort of clicking for us right now, Kirk Hinrich explained. Theres kind of a good calmness, but also readiness and sense of urgency at the same time. Weve kind of had that edge."
Joakim Noah added: I think its high energy, rebounding, good defense. We hit shots. A lot of guys stepped up tonight and thats a positive: Jimmy Boy Butler, Kirky Worky Hinrich, Los Boozer. It feels good to win.
We really feel like our basketball is yet to come, when our horses come back, he continued. I feel like we were really active tonight and we were definitely the hungrier team. When youre the hungrier team, it usually ends up with the win.
Boozer concurred: D-Rose is still out, Luol is still out. Were doing it without big pieces of our team being in the game, so thats very impressive.
Every team goes through ups and downs, they go through peaks and valleys and right now, were on the rise.