One thing was evident from the opening tip of Tuesday night’s showdown between the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Bulls, winners of five of their last six games, needed Carlos Boozer to bring his grown-man game against the dominant front line of the Clippers if they wanted to win. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the rest of the Clippers certainly weren’t going to shy away from turning the United Center into their own trap-house before a national television audience. Boozer, an enigma for many, needed to be the primary pusher in the paint if the Bulls were to prove they indeed had that work in return.
For all the Twitter talk and love-hate relationship fans share with him, Boozer has been low-key balling the past few weeks. He averaged 15.5 points per game, 10.8 rebounds and nine double-doubles in his last 12 games before facing this fiery Clippers team. He answered the call and carried the Bulls all night in the 94-89 loss, finishing the game with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Can’t knock that hustle at all.
Meanwhile, it was the same refrain for the Bulls offense. Chicago did surprisingly shoot 10-for-20 in 3-pointers, certainly a cause for celebration considering the team has a season average of just 34 percent. And while the trifectas were dropping tonight, much of the team’s shooting inside the arc was atrocious. There certainly was no shortage of 17-foot bricks being fired from players on the wing, that’s for sure. Luol Deng had a 3-for-14 night. Marco Bellinelli, who must really be feeling himself after three double-digit scoring nights last week, went 6-of-22 from the floor. Kirk Hinrich, back from injury, was his normal, underwhelming self. In the end, it was the team’s self-inflicted scoring woes that served as its ultimate momentum killer.
Rest in peace to the sweet memories of the original Bench Mob coming into save games like these the past two seasons. Fans are still grieving the loss, yet that doesn’t change the fact that those guys are on new teams, and doing quite well I might add.
Yes, the Bulls remained within striking distance late in the game, but with CP3 at the helm for the Clippers and no sharpshooter on the floor dressed in the home team whites, the lack of viable scorers once again dictated the final outcome. Down goes Chicago.
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