Carlos Boozer had a gash under his eye and a smile on his face after Tuesday night's game.
Sure, the Jazz had just overpowered the Bulls 132-108 and yes, Boozer had just scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, but even he couldn't get over some of things he had just witnessed.
Namely, the ridiculously talented point guards who had just put their games on display for all the world to see. The Jazz's Deron Williams, Boozer's teammate and personal assist machine racked up 28 points and 17 assists in a complete deconstruction of the Bulls defense. Chicago's Derrick Rose scored 25 points of his own while distributing 13 assists in a losing effort.
At different times, both men made plays that only a handful of athletes on the planet can make. Both players showed why they are -- and will be -- All Stars for a long time to come.
"That was a helluva matchup," Boozer said as he made his way to the door. "Did you have fun watching that? Because I did."
In this case, Boozer spoke for NBA fans everywhere. The Williams/Rose duel was one of the most entertaining one-on-one battles of the season.
"You got two incredible point guards pushing the ball," Boozer said. "That was one helluva matchup we just watched out there. A great game to watch. I'm going to get that tape and review myself. Those two guys, man ... they kept pushing the ball, so everybody kept running. It was a great game."
For a Jazz fan, maybe. You'd be hard-pressed to hear a Bulls fan utter those words. Once again, the Bulls looked completely lost on defense without center Joakim Noah. They dropped their fifth game in a row and have now given up 254 points in their last two contests. At the moment, they're outside of a playoff berth. And now, their second leading scorer, Luol Deng, has a strained calf muscle and is headed for an MRI on Wednesday morning. It would appear as if the Bulls are on the verge of losing all hope with just 19 games left in the season.
But, deep in the depths of despair, you could actually make the argument that Williams and the Jazz did the Bulls a favor. Forget for a second that Utah absolutely throttled the Bulls late in the game and scored 40 points in the fourth quarter. Forget that the Jazz were raining down three pointers (12-of-20 on the night) like they were going out of style. Hard as it may be, forget that for just a few seconds and think of it this way:
The Williams/Rose duel wasn't just a showdown -- it was a showcase.
Williams’ performance, and his ability to generate offense for the rest of his teammates, provided the Bulls with a perfect how-to guide of how to build a team around an unbelievably skilled point guard. The beauty of Williams’s performance wasn't even so much that he could get to the rim almost any time he wanted, like Rose; it was that he had the ability to create space on the floor and kick the ball out to his teammates for wide open looks at the basket.
When the University of Illinois product wasn't dishing out to CJ Miles or Mehmet Okur for another three pointer, he was finding Boozer under the basket for an easy basket.
"He's a good player," Rose said of Williams. "Somebody I look up to as a bigger guard in the NBA. Always attacking. Running the team. Finding people, and they were knocking down shots."
Rose had to have been a little jealous watching Williams work considering the weapons he had at his disposal. Granted, the Bulls are playing hurt and don't have Noah or a healthy Deng. But the problem is that they don't have any consistent long distance shooters, and haven't all season. They also don't have a guy like Boozer who plays a back-to-the-basket type of game.
When the Bulls are considering who they should sign this summer, they should use the Jazz's roster as a blueprint. The key with the Jazz is that they have produced the type of team that plays to Williams’ strengths. The same kind of strengths (speed, power, vision) that Rose possesses.
Williams realizes that if and when Rose does get those other types of players around him he will be even harder to stop.
"That's why I play hard," Williams said. "I know he's going to come at me hard. I'm going to come right back at him. I enjoy the competition."
So does everybody else.
"I look forward to playing all the best guards in the league," Williams said. "And he's one of them. So I definitely look forward to [the matchup]."
If the Bulls sign up the right free agents this summer, just think about how much better the matchup would be.