HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Anyone that tuned in to Monday night’s Bulls-Thunder game in anticipation of an epic point guard battle between Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook went to sleep disappointed.
They both played decently, though neither of them played up to their own lofty standards. But they were a mere sidelight on this night to a bigger headliner. This time it was Bulls forward Carlos Boozer who stole the show.
Boozer, in just his fourth game of the season (delayed by a broken finger), went wild on the Thunder, piling up 29 points and 12 rebounds to power the Bulls to a 99-90 win.
The Bulls had to wait a month to see it in action, but they have to feel good about the immediate future with a healthy Boozer easing into his role alongside Rose and Joakim Noah.
For his part, Boozer told reporters he’s just doing what he’s always done. More from my main man K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
“I’m just playing,” Boozer said. “This is regular stuff for me. I’m getting better every day. I’m playing off D-Rose. He’s our guy. Teams are double- and triple-teaming him, so I’m just moving to open areas.
“I’m an aggressive offensive player. And defensively, I was better on pick-and-rolls and help side defense.”
Boozer indeed came out aggressive with eight first-quarter points. He also converted two circus shots for potential three-point plays in the third, but missed one free throw.
“He should make everyone’s game easier,” Derrick Rose said. “He and I can play pick-and-roll. Joakim (Noah) can be on the weak side, tipping in shots.”
Added coach Tom Thibodeau: “We want to be an inside-out team. You can see what Carlos brings. He’s such a threat in every aspect — from transition, to pick-and-roll, to catch-and-shoot. He runs the floor well.”
Boozer and the Bulls weren’t the only team to experience a breakthrough Monday night.
After two years of struggles against their Southeast Division rivals, the Hawks (minus an injured Joe Johnson) mustered up the goods to top the Magic in Orlando behind double double performances from both Josh Smith and Al Horford.
The Knicks and Heat continue their respective rises up the Eastern Conference standings by extending their win streaks to five games with wins over the Timberwolves and Bucks, respectively.
We’ve even got the video evidence for you here in the Daily Zap:
And LeBron James headlines the Top Plays from Monday night:
*** Don’t forget to join us for lunch today on The Jump at 1 p.m. on NBA.com where we will preview tonight’s Fan Night matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks ***