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Boozer shows he's ready for season

CHICAGO -- On the night when Richard Hamilton made his first appearance for the Chicago Bulls one to remember, it was Carlos Boozer's re-appearance that should make Bulls fans even happier.

After a lackluster performance during Friday night's first preseason game in Indianapolis, Boozer came back strong on Tuesday with 24 points, seven rebounds and three assists. After all the ups and downs he endured during the postseason a year ago, Boozer had to feel good about being able to contribute again.

"He was very aggressive in this game," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "In the first game, I thought he played a great floor game. He was posting deep and passed the ball well. He did a lot of good things in that game. But he did not score the ball well, and we tend to judge him that way. This is the way he's been practicing in training camp. He's done a great job of running the floor. He's in great shape, so I'm not surprised by his play."

Neither was Boozer. He didn't seem concerned about his woes on Friday night because he was convinced he would find his old game again soon. He was right.

"The difference is a lot of the rust came off in the first game," Boozer said. "And you see how much more fluid things are today. I think all of us got the chance to get the kinks out so to speak. This is the first game we played [here] since we lost last year, as a group together. I think each game, the quality of our game will get better. Individually and collectively."

It's no secret the Bulls can only beat the Miami Heat in a potential Eastern Conference finals rematch this season if they get something more out of their $80 million man. He must stay healthy, and he must contribute every night. If he plays the way he did on Tuesday, that won't be much of a problem.

"His moves [were] way quicker, efficient," Bulls guard Derrick Rose said. "Knowing what he was going to do. Getting in a rhythm. We haven't played basketball in a very long time. I think he hasn't played pickup. Ever since the Miami series he's just been working out. Same with me. I don't play pickup so getting in the rhythm of the game is kind of difficult. But just playing in these two games, and the first [regular season] game we'll have a feel for the game."