PHOENIX -- Contrary to popular belief, Carlos Boozer is not oblivious to everything going on around him. He hears the criticism he has received during his time in Chicago and he doesn't like it, although he doesn't usually talk about it publicly.
But Boozer took a subtle dig at some of his critics after going off for 28 points in the Bulls' 112-106 overtime win over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. When it was brought up to Boozer that he really doesn't enjoy talking about himself, he interrupted the question before it could be finished.
"No, I really don't," Boozer said to a reporter. "You all do enough talking about me already."
Then Boozer paused ever so slightly and delivered a playful, yet pointed, jab at some of the people who criticize his game and uttered a word not fit for print.
It was an interesting exchange on a night when the veteran forward admitted that his game was in working order all night. When asked what part of his offensive game he thought was working best, Boozer -- who scored a combined 26 points in the three games before Wednesday -- didn't hesitate.
"Everything, to be honest," he said. "I played off Rip (Hamilton), he got me going on the corner pass into the post. Kirk (Hinrich) did a great job of throwing pocket passes to me (so I was) getting some open jump shots, and I was aggressive. I felt like I had everything. I even made my free throws tonight. It felt good."
It had to feel good for Boozer given his early season struggles. It also had to feel good for Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who stayed in Boozer's corner while criticism poured down on him.
Why was Thibodeau always convinced that Boozer would come around offensively?
"His career," Thibodeau said. "It's not like you don't know. In the end you basically know where he's going to end up. I thought the last game he started to find some offensive rhythm. I thought he started this game very aggressively, I thought he played well throughout. You know what he's going to give you."
Thibodeau has been cautious to criticize Boozer publicly because he understands how fragile the big man's psyche can be at times. He's always much quicker with praise -- and that was the case again on Wednesday. Only this time it was warranted.
"A lot of plays are called for him," Thibodeau said. "This is the thing that he probably doesn't get enough credit for -- if a play is called for him it doesn't necessarily mean it's his shot. It's his play, his responsibility is to make the right play. So if a second defender comes he has to hit the open man which he always does. If you hit Carlos, you cut and you're open, he's going to hit you with the pass. So he plays the right way and he doesn't press. No matter if things aren't going his way, the next day he comes in and works on his game, gets ready for the next game."
That attitude paid off in a big way for Boozer and the Bulls Wednesday night. If he can continue to play the way he did against the Suns, he won't mind discussing what the analysts say about his game.