Preseason Game 5: Bulls 92, Timberwolves 81

So…Carlos Boozer is alive after all.

After going 13-for-37 over his first four preseason games — that’s 35.1 percent “accuracy” for those who enjoy simple math — Boozer finally broke out of basketball purgatory by shooting 10-for-17 from the field for his game-high 24 points. Boozington also added 9 boards, 4 assists and 4 steals (!!).

And people say he can’t play defense.

All kidding aside, Bulls fans always breath a sigh of frustrated relief when Carlos has a strong game. Although even then he can rarely win. If Boozer plays poorly, people complain (often bitterly) about his bloated contract and failure to meet expectations. If Boozer plays well, it’s expected and few people want to give him credit.

We’re about to start Season 3 of the Boozer era, and the  man is still something of an enigma. Many fans feel like the Bulls got ripped off a couple summers ago when the team signed Boozer to $75 million free agent contract. People expected Boozer to be the 20-10 machine he was in Utah but believe that Carlos failed to show up.

Only he kind of did show up.

His raw stats are down, but so is his PT. If you check his Per 36 Minute stats, Boozer is still worth better than 10 rebounds and nearly 20 points per game. Last season, he shot 53.2 percent, which ranked 10th in the league and was only a shade below his career average of 53.7 percent. Similarly, last season’s Player Efficiency Rating of 19.7 is pretty darn close to his career average of 20.5.

So Chicago’s Boozer is nearly identical to Utah’s Boozer.

Except for the playoffs that is. His playoff numbers with the Bulls dropped off big time from what he did with the Jazz. But I’m not ready to start talking playoffs just yet.

The bottom line is Boozer shook off the rust and played well. Which is good news.

Said Boozer: “Getting better and better every day, that’s the goal. The reason we have preseason is so we can get better and better and get ready for the regular season. I see myself getting better and better each day, each game, each week, and the preseason’s almost over so it’s about time to get going. … It just happened by the course of the game. It wasn’t like it was planned out. It just happened. We got a couple stops, ran in transition, I did a good job of sealing the ball and making myself presentable to them and they hit me in the right spots to be successful.”

Added Taj Gibson: “He just needed to get going. He just needed to have a strong game to have himself ready for the season. I was saying to him, ‘Just get your legs going. Get yourself going in the post.’ He did a phenomenal job just running the floor, getting early seals, back to the old Carlos we know he can be and it was great. He did a great job. We kept feeding him and we’re going to continue to do that throughout the year. He’s going to be a big part of our success this year.”

Speaking of Gibson…he had a strong night too. Like Boozer, Taj had really struggled through the first four preseason games. Last night, he had a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) to go with 3 blocks and a steal.

Of course, here’s where I have to say “but.” Minnesota’s frontcourt — which was missing Kevin Love (broken hand) — consisted of Greg Stiemsma, Dante Cunningham, Andrea Kirilenko, Derrick Williams, Lou Admundson and Chase Budinger.

Not exactly a murderer’s row.

Of course, Joakim Noah wasn’t burning it up on offense. Noah went 0-for-6 and finished with only 2 pointsd. But he did have 12 boards, 2 steals and a block. Noah, along with Boozer and Gibson, was a big part of Chicago’s rebounding dominance (47-41).

The defense was strong. The Bulls had 13 steals, 8 blocks and held Minny to 42.7 percent shooting (including 3-for-19 from three-point range). Overall, the Bulls forced 21 turnovers and scored 25 points off of them.

However, the offense again struggled, with the Bulls committing 17 miscues of their own (for 18 points going the other way) and shooting 41.8 percent.

Noah wasn’t the only person whose shot was off. Kirk Hinrich was 1-for-5. Marco Belinelli — who still hasn’t hit a three in a Bulls uniform — was 0-for-5. Rip Hamilton scored 15 points but shot only 5-for-13.

The Bulls also played better in the first half (during which they outscored the T-Wolves 50-35) than they did in the second (when Minnesota outscored Chicago 46-42). And, just like in the last game, coach Tom Thibodeau had to re-insert the starters when the lead was getting away.

Said Boozer: “It was the third/fourth (quarters,) it was the second half. Our flow was a little different. We started trading baskets with them. We had a huge lead in the third quarter. We were up 16, 17, whatever it was. That beginning of the fourth quarter wasn’t what (Thibodeau) wanted, so he brought us (starters) back in. We did a very good job there at the end, but there was a stretch there we just traded baskets with them. That’s not something we like to do.”

Added Deng (who played a way-to-many 37  minutes): “We got to finish games better.”

Finishing is important. Personally, I’m more concerned about offensive efficiency and bench production. But I’m okay if the Bulls work on all those things.

Recap, Box Score.

2 Responses to Preseason Game 5: Bulls 92, Timberwolves 81

    BoppinBob October 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    With 6-7 new guys on the floor it will take time for the Bulls to mesh. But they will mesh much quicker than they did in 2010 because there are more guys with experience in the system.

    The Bulls offense has no relation to the Utah offense Boozer played in. Although with DRose out that may change some. The starter offense will primaryly come from Deng, Boozer and Hamilton. Who the leading scorer is will change by the game depending on the hot hand and what the defense is giving them. Every once in a while Hinrich and Noah with surprize. Gibson, Butler, Mohammad and Robinson will provide the bulk of the scoring for the second unit early as every one settles in. Belinelli and the Rad-man will occassionalyy provide a boost.

  2. Fan Man October 23, 2012 at 1:41 am #

    This team still isn’t built to win a championship. Chicago fans can talk bench mobs all the want to, but in the playoffs (which are what matters, not regular-season wins) the bench players, especially this new group of has-beens and never-weres aren’t going to get it done. You’re telling me that in a 7 game series with Miami or OKC or the Lakers we’re supposed to rely on contributions from Nazr Mohammed? From Marco Belinelli? From Rip Hamilton’s ancient body? From Taj’s on again-off again contributions? From Noah? Where’s the offense going to come from?

    Meanwhile they have LeBron and Wade slamma-jamming over Boozer’s matador defense. Not gonna work. This team needs more superstars. Not retreads from other teams we bought for bargain basement prices because we panicked and overpayed for Boozer, who’s a second-tier player on his best nights.

    We need more star players. Boozer isn’t that. What makes me mad isn’t that he only has a “good” game once in a while. It isn’t that you can run the raw stats and come up with the fact that he’s still playing “well”. It’s that he refuses to play back to the basket and get the inside scoring that this team desperately needs. We basically payed a zillion dollars for a 6’8 jump-shooter. We had that already, his name is Luol Deng.

    I’m telling you right now, look at the facts and look at history. This team will *not* win a championship with just D-Rose and a bunch of supporting cast players. They need another superstar, and until they find a way to snare one, by hook or by crook, they’ll always be a good regular season team and a mope in the playoffs. They go all out, busting a gut to rack up 60 wins in the regular season, but when it comes down to the playoffs and it’s a battle of superstar players there are way too many stacked teams for D-Rose to be able to carry us past.

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