Say what you want about Carlos Boozer, but when the Chicago Bulls needed him to have a big night, he delivered in a major way. With Joakim Noah missing his first game of the season with the nasty flu, Boozer anchored the Bulls with a season-high 31 points and 11 rebounds as they knocked off the Orlando Magic 96-94 on Wednesday. It was a game that Chicago desperately needed after dropping three of its last four.
Boozer has quietly recorded a double-double in the past three games, increasing his scoring totals in each. In fact, he has 15 for the season. Fans who often criticize him have no choice but to deliver well-deserved props when Boozer produces like this. And he had plenty of help on the front line. Luol Deng dropped 23 points in 39 minutes. Taj Gibson, who started in Noah’s place, recorded 21 points, 11 boards and blocked four shots. Thank you, Taj! Those are the sort of numbers expected from a key player who just got a contract-extension, not the paltry production that has been displayed much of this season. Keep it up.
Most importantly, the Bulls were able to get back to some winning ways after being run out of the own gym against the Charlotte Bobcats two nights earlier. Chicago actually led the game by as many as 18 points, only for them to drop their guard and let the Magic fight their way back. Coughing up leads like that is something coach Tom Thibodeau must address immediately.
Jameer Nelson matched his career high with 32 points for the Magic, but he seemingly ran out of mojo during crunchtime. First, Gibson blocked his attempted game-tying layup. Nelson then missed a short, contested jumper in the next possession that sealed their fate. Game over. Magic’s Nikola Vucevic, who had a franchise-record 29 boards against the Miami Heat on Monday, finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds. The Magic have lost seven straight games.
The Bulls will be taking their talents to South Beach to face the Heat on Friday in a nationally-televised game. I hope Chicago brings their offense along for this trip or else it will be a long night watching LeBron James reign supreme.
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