Boozer, Bulls dominate north of the border

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Boozer, Bulls dominate north of the border

Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010
Posted 8:30 PM Updated 10:33 PM
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

TORONTO Carlos Boozers season-high point total and a blowout victory took a back seat Wednesday night, as reports of Joakim Noahs impending right-thumb surgery were more of a concern to a Bulls team that has now won seven consecutive games. Noah played despite the pre-existing conditionteam doctors reportedly gave their assurance that no further damage could be done by playing in the contestand made an impact in the 110-93 victory over the Raptors, as did Derrick Rose, who played through soreness in his right elbow and right hip in the aftermath of a scary fall in Mondays win.

Chicago got off to a quick start, scoring the games first six points, with a clear emphasis on getting the ball inside to Boozer (34 points, 12 rebounds), who scored on consecutive possessions at the games outset. The teams inside-out strategy was effective against the undersized and inexperienced Raptorssans leading scorer Andrea Bargnani out on the evening, with rugged veteran Reggie Evans and floor general Jose Calderon already missing in actionwho had no answer for Boozer and Noah (11 points, 11 rebounds, two blocked shots) on the boards.

Boozer continued to overpower his Toronto counterparts in the paint, but a lackluster overall Bulls effort raised the ire of head coach Tom Thibodeau, who called multiple timeouts to express his displeasure to the team for letting the Raptors hang around, despite Chicago maintaining a slim cushion over the home team. After a quarter of play, the Bulls held a 23-18 advantage.

The feisty Raptors remained within striking distance early in the second period, as Toronto s regulars kept pace with a mostly-reserve Chicago lineup. Sharpshooter Kyle Korver (13 points, six assists) and swingman Ronnie Brewer (10 points, four rebounds) gave the Bulls an offensive lift, while backup point guard C.J. Watson capably ran the team, helping the visitors extend their lead to double figures.

Upon Boozers re-entry into the contest, the Bulls fed him a steady diet of low-post touches, which he converted into scoring opportunities, before the game deteriorated into a cavalcade of fouls and defensive three-second violations, with Chicago maintaining its comfortable winning margin throughout the ragged stretch. Boozer would resume his inside dominance before the half, which concluded with the Bulls taking a 63-44 lead into the locker room.

Our game plans always to go inside-out, said Boozer. We knew they had a mismatch problem with me, so they just kept getting it to me. I just tried to be aggressive all night long.

Added Thibodeau: Hes done it for a long time.

I thought Derrick ran a great game for us. I thought transition, he found him several times off penetration. He made some great calls, different plays. We executed in the halfcourt and Carlos is terrific. He can score in so many different ways. He does it in transition, he does it in the post, he does it off pick-and-roll, he does it off catch-and-shoot, so hes a tough matchup.

Chicago continued to extend its advantage after intermission, as Boozers continued strong play inside and offensive balance keyed by Roses (six points, 11 assists) unselfish playmakingclearly not as explosive as usual with injuries taking a toll, the All-Star point guard wisely opted to be more of a distributor in the contestand a transition game buoyed by a major advantage on the glass.

Im feeling good that we won, but definitely sore. My elbow was killing me tonight, even though I took a pill, but Im all right, said Rose afterwards. My arm is really, really bothering me, but Im glad we have two days until we play, so I can get a lot of treatment and really give it time to heal. Ive just got to fight through it and thats what I did tonight.

Thibodeau was positive about Roses play, though he denied that his star point guard looked to be in pain.

The way I saw it, I didnt see him laboring. I think he played extremely well. I thought thats what the game was dictating. We play inside-out on the road and we wanted to play with tempo, said Thibodeau. We wanted to play the game with pace and we did that, and I thought that once he saw that we had Carlos going pretty good, we kept going to it and that part was really good.

Roses passing and the Bulls ability to push the pace opened up the floodgates, and Toronto had no recourse in stopping the visitors onslaught.

Brewer again provided a spark off the bench, enabling the Bulls to maintain their momentum and deflate the initially energetic Air Canada Centre crowd. Heading into the final period, the Bulls were routing the home-standing Raptors, 91-64.

Thibodeau deployed his bench in the fourth quarter, playing it safe with Toronto facing such an insurmountable deficit. However, the Raptors attempted to battle back by virtue of their athleticism and the hot hand of sixth man Leandro Barbosa (21 points), garnering the support of the home fans, as Chicago lapses and suddenly cold shooting gave them life with the difference between the teams virtually sliced in half.

Thibodeau reinserted small forward Luol Deng (19 points, four rebounds) to add both offensive firepower and additional defense.

I really dont mind. I played a lot of minutes. Coach knows I really dont get tired like that out there. I could run all day, Deng told CSNChicago.com. But weve got to do a better job. Everyone in the locker room knows it. We spoke about it as a team.

With the team that we want to be, weve got to finish games. Were too goodwhether its first unit or second unitwere too good to give up leads like that.

The move worked and while Thibodeau couldnt be happy with how his team closed out their trip to the Great White North, the Bulls ultimately cruised to victory.

We did some good things for three quarters. Fourth quarter, weve got to do better. It was a good win, said Thibodeau. We were fortunate tonight, in terms of Bargnani being out, Calderon being out and a back-to-back for them.

But our defense and our rebounding, for the first three quarters, was very good.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Doug McDermott to return for Bulls against Spurs after missing 11 games with concussion

Doug McDermott to return for Bulls against Spurs after missing 11 games with concussion

After a couple weeks of woozy moments, confusing car rides and 11 games of inactivity due to suffering a concussion Bulls forward Doug McDermott will return to action tonight against the San Antonio Spurs.

McDermott took a hard fall Nov. 12 against the Washington Wizards while going up for a dunk, hitting his head on the unforgiving floor of the United Center and had to go through the concussion protocol before finally being cleared. It was his second concussion this season, with the first coming on Halloween.

“Good, great, it’s been a long couple weeks, but finally feel good to be able to go out there and compete, so I’m excited,” McDermott said after morning shootaround at the Advocate Center.

The last couple of days after being cleared for contact, he practiced with the Bulls’ D-League team in the attempt to get some rhythm and most importantly, some conditioning after being out for so long.

He was in great spirits Thursday, a sharp contrast to the initial days after the concussion where the simplest tasks became herculean.

“The first week-and-a-half was tough sleeping-wise, just weird symptoms you don’t even realize,” McDermott said. “Just being in cars, going to my appointments was tough at times, some headaches throughout the week. But with a concussion you just have to be true to yourself and true to the doctors. You don’t want to lie about things because it can only make things worse. I’m finally to the point where I’m feeling better.”

McDermott said going to physical therapy or riding on the freeway would trigger vertigo in the first week, but luckily for him, it didn’t last much longer after that. The first concussion of his career took him to different place mentally, and he leaned on Celtics big man Al Horford during that time of confusion and frustration.

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Horford missed a number of games with a concussion he suffered early in the season.

“Talked to him for about 30 minutes,” McDermott said. “He was in the middle of his and I had my second one. We talked about our symptoms and he really took his time and you see his game has been really good since he came back.”

“We're really the only two guys who've had it this year. People don't really understand, it's a tough deal. Basketball can be physical. You see it a lot in football. You gotta be true to yourself, true to your doctors because you don't wanna mess around.”

With the second concussion taking place 13 days after the first, McDermott and the Bulls had to be a lot more careful the next time around. Having one is scary enough but the fall he took in the United Center probably ignited a fear in him that he didn’t know existed.

“Yeah, you have to just listen to your symptoms, but I think with the second one in such a short period of time they wanted to be cautious too, and I did too,” McDermott said. “It’s not like an ankle sprain or a knee deal where you can play through things like that. It’s your brain, so you want to be as sharp as possible.”

The Bulls need any type of reinforcement they can get, especially for the struggling bench. McDermott feels like he can add some confidence or at least put other guys in a more natural order, although that remains to be seen as Nikola Mirotic and Isaiah Canaan have really struggled in his absence — all season, it seems.

“I think we'll get our swagger back too. We've had some injuries,” McDermott said. “Once we get myself and Michael (Carter-Williams) back, we've been rotating guys that aren't used to playing with each other. Once we get some continuity there with that group, things will get better. Adding a shooter like me, it'll take pressure off Niko, take pressure off Isaiah to hit shots. Just having 3 floor spacers out there will really help all of us.”

Five Things to Watch: Bulls try to snap skid against Spurs on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Bulls try to snap skid against Spurs on CSN

Watch as the Bulls take on the Spurs tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com, the only place where you can get the hometown call from Neil and Stacey.

Coverage begins at 8 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

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FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1. Attempting to end perfection. The Spurs have been absolutely electric outside of San Antonio this season, winning each of their first 13 road games to begin the year. That's the second longest streak in NBA history, and the Bulls have actually lost two of three at home. The Bulls will be home underdogs as the Spurs look to make it 14 in a row. The good news is the Bulls have defeated the Spurs at home each of the last two seasons.

2. Battle of the two-way studs. There's a real argument to be made that Thursday's matchup will tout the two best two-way players in the NBA. Kawhi Leonard, the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is having his best offensive season to date, averaging 24.5 points on 46 percent shooting, 1.9 triples, and averaging nearly 91 percent from the free-throw line. Expect Jimmy Butler and Leonard to be on each other's rear most of the night in what should be one of the most fun 1-on-1 matchups in the NBA.

3. Questions at the point. For the Spurs, Tony Parker is questionable to play with a knee injury. If he can't go, it would be Nico Laprovittola and Patty Mills running the point. For the Bulls, Rajon Rondo is coming off a pair of ugly performances in Bulls' losses to the Mavericks and Pistons (and his suspension against the Blazers). Someone needs to step up at the point, and it could decide Thursday night's winner.

4. Pau returns to the UC. Though it didn't result in much success, Pau Gasol enjoyed two highly successful seasons in Chicago. The stat-stuffer was named an All-Star in both seasons, averaging 17.6 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 150 games. He's now in San Antonio, filling Tim Duncan's role in the starting lineup. And though his numvers are down from a year ago, he's still capable of putting up numbers, especially against a Bulls' interior that has struggled of late.

5. Getting Doug McDermott back. Dougie McBuckets has been activated to the Bulls roster, and not a moment too soon. Since McDermott suffered a concussion on Nov. 12, the Bulls bench ranks 26th in 3-pointers per game (2.5) and 30th in 3-point field-goal percentage (23.5 percent). Getting McDermott back, even in a small role as he gets his legs under him, will be a major factor against a Spurs team whose offense continues to heat up in December.

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