After enduring a rough patch as of late, Carlos Boozer broke out of his recent slump in Thursday night’s 111-87 Bulls’ win over the Rockets at the United Center, scoring 10 of 18 points in the first quarter of the blowout victory.
“I felt great. Just playing. Got great shots, played off of my teammates, took them, knocked them down,” Boozer said. “You never know what’s going to be out there. Rotations are different. But you’ve just to play. When you’re out there, make the most of your minutes, have fun and help your team win.”
Parsing his words, it would seem that the much-maligned power forward was making a veiled reference to his reduced minutes this season and his spot in Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation as a whole. Sixth man Taj Gibson has usurped Boozer as the team’s top post-up threat and already being a stronger defender, is now a virtual lock to finish games.
But when the shoe’s on the other foot, like Thursday, Gibson is happy for Boozer’s success and insists it’s vice versa. After all, Gibson is the same player who started as a rookie under Vinny Del Negro, then became a backup when Boozer was signed as a free agent the following summer, though only after beginning the 2010-11 campaign as a starter when Boozer was sidelined.
Boozer always lifted him up back then, keeping his spirits high and tutoring him offensively behind the scenes, so Gibson remains gracious and sensitive to Boozer’s current predicament, realizing that his desire to play has nothing to do with not being happy for his teammate’s development.
“It’s a part of our job, but we’re all a family on this team. He’s always one of the first people I see cheering for me. He’s always great. Even when I have rough nights, he’s the first guy that’s always picking me up. So I think it’s going great. It’s just one of those situations,” explained Gibson, who has struggled offensively in the Bulls’ past few outings as he gets over a flu bug. “Yeah, it just depends on how the game is going. It’s so competitive now, to where Thibs has options in the post. So whoever’s hot, he’s going to roll with you. Like tonight, I’m still try to find my rhythm back. Carlos has been hot tonight. Even though I got in foul trouble, I had no problem with him continuing to light it up. He’s on fire. There’s been days when you see a mismatch and I’m in the game with him, I’ll tell Carlos to go take the play before me, even though Thibs drew it up for me, because we’re just about winning. But it’s going great right now, I guess.”