Carlos Boozer's big night a positive sign

Carols Boozer scored 24 points in Friday's Bulls win. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

CHICAGO -- If the Chicago Bulls are going to have success this season without Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer has to play like he did in Friday night's 92-81 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

His teammates know it. His coach knows it. And most of all, the veteran forward knows it. After struggling to find a rhythm during the preseason, Boozer scored 24 points and pulled down nine rebounds Friday, finally finding the form that everyone in the Bulls' locker room hope can propel them while Rose recovers from a knee injury.

"He just needed to get going," Bulls forward Taj Gibson said. "He just needed to have a strong game to have himself ready for the season. I was saying to him, 'Just get your legs going. Get yourself going in the post.' He did a phenomenal job just running the floor, getting early seals, back to the old Carlos we know he can be and it was great. He did a great job. We kept feeding him and we're going to continue to do that throughout the year. He's going to be a big part of our success this year."

The key for Boozer was he was able to get into the rhythm of the offense early and his teammates made a point to get the ball to him. They knew he had been struggling to find his shot and they realized that it was time for him to shake off the rust.

"I like the way that Carlos played tonight," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He is practicing well. Tonight he got into a good rhythm. We have to seek him out more."

While some Bulls fans were concerned about Boozer's up-and-down play during the exhibitions, the forward always seemed certain that he would find his rhythm.

"Getting better and better every day, that's the goal," he said. "The reason we have preseason is so we can get better and better and get ready for the regular season. I see myself getting better and better each day, each game, each week, and the preseason's almost over so it's about time to get going."

As has been the case over the past two years, the key for Boozer Friday was that he started knocking down shots in the first quarter. The fact that his team was going to him gave him the confidence he needed to be successful against an undermanned Timberwolves team.

"It just happened by the course of the game," Boozer said. "It wasn't like it was planned out. It just happened. We got a couple stops, ran in transition, I did a good job of sealing the ball and making myself presentable to them and they hit me in the right spots to be successful."

No matter how it happened, Thibodeau was just happy that it did.

"We do stress inside-out," he said. "The guys did a good job of getting the ball to Carlos. When he has his feet in the lane and showing you his number, we have to get him the ball. Carlos' effort on the boards was good. Tonight he was a multiple-effort guy. He is capable of doing that all the time."

If he does, the Bulls will be in good shape this season.