CHICAGO -- When Gar Forman signed Carlos Boozer to a five-year deal worth almost $80 million dollars last summer, he envisioned nights like Monday in his head.
The power forward gave his team a huge offensive jolt, scoring 23 points and shooting 9-for-13 from the field, as the Chicago Bulls rolled past the Detroit Pistons 92-68. For Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, the game served as a glimpse of what Boozer and Derrick Rose can be when they run the pick-and-roll to perfection.
"Carlos and Derrick in the pick-and-roll, they are tough to stop," Thibodeau said. "They put a lot of pressure on people. Tonight I thought they made real good decisions. Derrick has seen just about every type of defense there is. He is doing a great job of running the team. Any time we can get two on the ball, we like that. Whether it is in the post or with Derrick in the pick-and-roll."
After being much maligned throughout his brief Bulls tenure for his struggles on defense and his lack of offensive consistency, Boozer proved, at least for one night, that he can knock down shots when his team needs him to. With Joakim Noah and Luol Deng struggling to find any kind of offensive rhythm, it was up to Boozer to provide Rose with some much needed assistance. Boozer saw that the Pistons were sending double teams towards Rose and he knew it was up to him to play off his point guard.
"I would too if I was them," Boozer said. "He's the MVP of the league. I haven't seen one team really stop him, so I think more teams are going to start sending more defenders at him. So we just got to be more aggressive when we get the ball."
Finding Boozer was the easy part for Rose. He was happy to play the role of shotmaker for the rest of his teammates.
"I think we're pretty tough,” Rose said. “My job is to get him the ball, read the play most of the time. Teams now are soft blitzing like they were in the playoffs. And when two come to me, he's been wide open."
That's the key for Rose and the Bulls if they want to continue to improve. That's the reason why Thibodeau had to be so pleased with what he was seeing on this night. If Boozer can consistently play this way on offense throughout the year, teams won't be able to attack Rose the way they want to. They won't be able to leave Boozer to get open look after open look. In the process, it will create even more space for Rose and the rest of his teammates to operate. That's a fact that Boozer takes great pride in.
"He's turned into one hell of a point guard," Boozer said of Rose. "Last year, he would take on a double and triple team and he would score most of the time. This year, he's doing a great job of trusting us. He can see a double team and pass the ball to the right person and let them make the play. I like it when he's aggressive, but he's playing incredibly smart at the point guard position."
As Boozer pointed out several times, it wasn't just his game that looked different on this night. Rose's development as a passer and playmaker seem to be improving nightly. No longer is he looking to drive to the rim every time he comes up the floor.
"You realize that he can also make plays with the pass," Boozer said. "He came back this year [as] a better point guard. I think his scoring ability ain't going to go anywhere. And we know in the fourth quarter we're going to go to him until they stop himi, which I haven't seen yet in my year [here]. It is pretty amazing to see him be so young and growing and learning how we can win games easier."