Boozer in, Hinrich out for Bulls tonight vs. Clippers

Boozer in, Hinrich out for Bulls tonight vs. Clippers
January 24, 2014, 3:00 pm
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Mark Strotman

Carlos Boozer will play tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers, while point guard Kirk Hinrich will miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury.

Boozer missed Wednesday's game against Cleveland with a left calf injury. In his place, Taj Gibson tied a career-high with 26 points in the Bulls' 98-87 over former teammate Luol Deng and the Cavs.

Hinrich did not travel with the team on Wednesday and is still not ready for action after missing the team's shootaround this morning at the United Center.

"He's improved but he still needs work to do," Thibodeau said of his starting point guard.

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DJ Augustin has exploded the past week, averaging 21.6 points on better than 54 percent shooting, 3.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists in nearly 33 minutes over his last five games. He had arguably his best game in a Bulls uniform Wednesday, scoring 27 points (including five 3-pointers) and handing out seven assists in the Bulls' win. On Monday he hit a pair of clutch shots in the Bulls' overtime win over the Lakers.

Part of Augustin's successes have come in pick-and-rolls situations. The 6-foot point guard has done an exceptional job finding the likes of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson off screens, and he's made defenses pay when his defender goes under screens -- Augustin has made 41.7 percent of his 3-pointers with Chicago.

"It's one of his strengths," Thibodeau said of Augustin in pick-and-roll action. "The fact that he can shoot the ball, make plays, he's very good in transition, with the pick-and-rolls as well."

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Noah, who is averaging 16.4 points over his last four games, said Augustin has made the offense more efficient: "He's been huge. He's playing really good basketball, just finding ways to win games. He's tough, great in the pick-and-roll."

BULLS SHOOTING THEIR WAY TO SUCCESS

Tom Thibodeau couldn't have imagined in October that just three months later Derrick Rose would be on the bench with a season-ending injury, that Luol Deng would be playing for Division foe Cleveland and that DJ Augustin would be his starting point guard.

But the Bulls have surprised in many ways, and in one area -- outside shooting -- Thibodeau has also been pleasantly surprised.

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"Mike has shot the ball well all year, and now you add DJ to the mix, Tony is starting to shoot well, Jimmy hasn't shot particularly well but I've liked his shots the last few games. And Kirk in the end, he always seems to start slow and finishes at 38, 39 percent," Thibodeau said. "But the big thing I think is the quick decisions, and Jo has facilitated a lot of that but now every game I feel like we have a chance to get eight, nine, 10 threes. And as long as we defend it well, that could be a plus for us."

THIBODEAU, BULLS RESPECT CLIPPERS' TALENT

Last time the Bulls faced the Clippers, Tom Thibodeau was handed the worst loss of his head-coaching career, a 121-82 defeat at Staples Center. The Bulls were playing just two days after learning about Derrick Rose's season-ending injury and were on the third game of a six-game road trip, but still they remember that loss and won't be underestimating Doc Rivers' team's talent.

"They're so talented, particularly offensively. They can push the ball, Griffin is a load inside and Jordan is like one of those guys, if you're no pay attention he's really going to hurt you with the second shot, the lobs," Thibodeau said. "Collison, to me, is basically a starter who was coming off the bench. Barnes is one of those guys, he's had a terrific career because of the way he competes. The way they can attack you -- Redick, people think he's only a shooter, he's more than a shooter; he's a playmaker."

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Added Noah, on Griffin: "He's a hell of a player. He's been playing excellent basketball, great scorer, rebounder, just try our best to keep him off the glass. He's a great player.

THIBODEAU BELIEVES NOAH SHOULD BE ALL-STAR

Tom Thibodeau won't be able to vote for Joakim Noah as an All-Star reserve -- coaches aren't allowed to vote their own players -- but the Bulls head coach thinks it would be an error if Noah weren't elected to his second straight All-Star Game.

"I think his play speaks for itself," Thibodeau said. "He's playing incredibly well. When I look at how he's playing and what he's doing for the team, to me it's a no-brainer."

Noah opted not to talk about his candidacy, simply saying he's preparing for tonight's game against a solid team.