<
>

Boozer's toe felt better as game progressed

Carlos Boozer scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Dennis Wierzbicki/US Presswire

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer readily admits that his right big toe still doesn't feel good, but he is playing through the turf toe.

Boozer racked up 14 points and eight rebounds in Monday night's 103-95 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, showing flashes of the type of player the Bulls expected him to be when the playoffs started.

"My toe was OK," Boozer said after the game. "As [the game] went on, a little better. Very painful, but as the game went along I got more and more comfortable with it."

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau noticed the same thing.

"In the first quarter I think he was trying to find his timing," Thibodeau said. "He hasn't practiced for five days. He got a little work this morning.

"As the game went on, he got better. He finally got comfortable and attacked the basket so he had the good stretch in the third quarter. That is encouraging. We have to get him back to practice. We need him to play well. He got to some pretty good spots, he got some pretty good shots."

How did that happen? The Bulls finally started feeding him the ball with more consistency at times in the second half, and he attacked the rim much better than he did in the first round playoff series against the Pacers.

"Just playing off [Derrick] Rose," Boozer said. "I got the ball, and being aggressive when I got it. Feeling a little bit better. Listen, turf toe is painful, but it's the playoffs. Everybody's a little hurt in here. We're a little banged up and we've got to play through it."

Boozer should gain more confidence with his performance on Monday night, but he is the first one to admit that it doesn't mean all that much since the Bulls couldn't pick up a win.

"We're aware of them," Boozer said. "They beat a very good team in Orlando down there in the first round. They're a very good team. They've got a lot of good players, a lot of one-on-one guys, and we've got to do better. For us, we know [if] we bounce back in Game 2, we get that win, we tie it up and go to their place. But we recognize their talent, they're very good and they showed it tonight."