Welcome to life with Carlos Boozer, Chicago.
Playing in just his fourth game of the season, Boozer racked up 29 points and 12 rebounds as the Bulls earned a 99-90 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday at the United Center. In the process, he also proved that he is becoming the consistent second scoring option the Bulls missed last year. He is the back-to-the-basket scorer the Bulls have been craving for years.
"He makes the game easy, where I just got to pass it to him," Rose said after the game. "He's going to find a way to score or get fouled. And that's what we need right now on this team -- where somebody in the post or someone down low that can really score, and that's him."
Boozer's mere presence on the floor created problems for an Oklahoma City squad that didn't have to face him during the regular-season opener in late October. His ability to score down low freed up shots for his teammates on the wings. Kyle Korver and Luol Deng combined for 32 points. But, even more importantly, Boozer's offensive prowess took some stress of Rose and Noah to provide continual offense. In short, he did what he was brought in to do on Monday night.
"The more easy buckets you get, it opens it up for everybody," Boozer said. "Our whole mind set is to get as many easy buckets in transition, get layups, because once you get layups they start crowding the paint and it opens it up for our jump-shooters."
The best part about Boozer's game is that most of his points came within the flow of the offense, a good sign for a team that is still trying to weave him into its system on both ends of the floor.
"What's really good about it is, all his shots come in the rythym of the game, which is great," Noah said. "We can slow it down and throw it in the post if we have to and I think that's something that we haven't had before. The best is definitely yet to come because we still have a lot of work to do."
That's the scariest part for the rest of the league after seeing the Bulls’ performance. There's still a lot of room for improvement. A lot of time for the Bulls' core to get more comfortable playing with Boozer, and vice versa.
"I'm not really satisfied," Boozer said. "I have a long way to go. I'm still trying to get my legs back and my timing back. And I feel like I'm getting there every day with our offense, with our defensive sets and being in a good rythym. But I'm not satisfied, I'm hungry. I want more out of this. I'm not where I'm going to be at."
Granted, the Thunder were playing on the second night of a back-to-back, but the Bulls saw their potential against a good team when they have all their pieces in place. Imagine how much better they will be in a couple months.
"Boozington is doing his thing," Noah said. "And I feel like the scary thing is, we're not even near where we need to be. His skill is undeniable. He's a beast in the post and he's been playing that pick and roll for a long time. He's strong as an ox. He's making us a lot better. He can pass. He always makes the right play. It's never anything really forced out there. When we get our defense straightened out all together as a team, we have a chance to do something good."