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Thursday, October 28

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Bulls Mon Nov 26 2012

Boozer's Business Trip Proves Productive


Like you, Carlos Boozer is back in town and ready for work Monday after an extended amount of taxing travel. Unlike you, Boozer didn't ride the Megabus back home to Michigan, where you slugged macrobrews at townie bars and ran into the people responsible for ruing your facebook timeline with their rants on why every state should secede the Union and cheesy engagement photos. Nope, Boozer took the "Booze Cruise" all over these still United States and the only pics he posted was him quasi-posterizing Milwaukee Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova.

Boozer was a stat line hero four out of his last five games on the road trip, turning in averages of 17.8 points and 12.6 rebounds in that span. If we pardoned the poor contest he had in Portland, that comes out to a 21.5 per game scoring with a more impressive rebounding rate of stunning 15 per. The match against the Trailblazers was aberrant incident rather than an cyclical bad night ebb to a great game flow. Boozer and the entire team left the Staples Center dejected after the previous night's blowout loss to the LA Clippers, and Boozer just couldn't get anything going versus Portland's physical front court of LaMarcus Aldridge and JJ Hickson. He shot 2-of-8 and Tom Thibodeau recognized this and decided to play him a mere 22 minutes. As I stated in my last piece, Boozer plays more like a spot-up two-guard who doesn't crash the boards for rebounds, but rather waits for them. In games against tough, defensive minded, box-out power forwards, if he can't find his rhythm earlier, he won't be in the game late. He's been playing much more aggressive as of late, and Thibodeau has rewarded him by opting for Boozer in the fourth quarter as opposed to defensive stud Taj Gibson.

Since it's been established that Loul Deng and Joakim Noah are the Derrick Rose-less leaders of the collective, Boozer may have finally settled in his role of facilitating the team when he's on by shooting at will and differing on all levels to the steady hands when rebounds and shots are cumbersome to him. He got off to a bad start in November because he may have been victim to the Chicago sports talk radio stereotyped adage that he's "try to do too much." Not many Bulls fans have ever been accused of using the utterance of "Carlos Boozer" and "trying to do too much" in the same sentence, but this might be the case.

After Taj Gibson was signed to a four-year extension at the beginning of the year, Boozer seemed set to prove his worth. He knew that if his shot wasn't firing, and if he didn't bring his defense up to par before the first half was over, he would be seldom used in the fourth quarter. In the team's first seven games, he didn't record a double-double or have nights scoring 20 points or more. Boozer did however notch three assists a game in that span to stay relevant in Thibodeau's rotation as opposed to 0.8 in his current hot streak. Turnovers are also a symptom of trying to do to much; over the first seven games Boozer coughed it up an average of 2.2 times a game compared to 1.4 now. Boozer has adjusted to this season's ever changing challenges. He wants to contribute, and he's doing it in ways that are organic to him; hitting jumpers and positioning himself best for the rebound.

So take a water break Bulls fans who are drunk off the amnesty-Boozer-Next-Season-Kool-Aid, he's worth more playing in a Bulls uniform at $15 million per year than he is playing in someone else's scrubs while earning $15 million per campaign on Jerry Reinsdorf's dime. Also, if I know Reinsdorf's track record with financial decisions like you know them, he's not going to give the team cap relief by paying someone not to play. Sobering, I know, the first step to recovery is admitting you're powerless against your "let's amnesty Boozer every time he doesn't do what Taj Gibson does on defense" disease. The Bulls have lost a few games recently but it's not from lack of trying from Boozer. Once the team figures out the right combination of players in rotations and guys like Kirk Hinrich and Marco Belinelli break out of their scoring slumps, this team will, in fact, outscore opponents. Boozer is hot as of right now, and all of us feel more comfortable when he's the third scoring option while not being asked to take over games. He seems more of a luxury not a necessity night in and night out, but don't be mistaken this ship sinks sails with the "Booze Cruise" and it sinks with too.

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