Despite seeing some of their key players dropping like flies, not to mention still waiting for Derrick Rose to return, the Chicago Bulls aren’t that far away from getting a first round home court advantage in the playoffs, thanks to an impressive double-double from Carlos Boozer, leading to a win over a direct rival for the spot they’ve been after.
With 29 points and 18 rebounds, Boozer was huge for the Bulls in their 92-90 win over the Brooklyn Nets, not only taking them to just 1.5 games behind (Bulls 5th, Nets 4th), but gave them the tiebreaker if necessary in the season series, winning three of four games.
The Nets had the lead for pretty much the entire game, opening it with an 18-4 run, leading in double-digits at half-time. Brook Lopez finished with 18 points in the first quarter alone, and it seemed that the absentees on the Bulls’ part – Noah, Rose, Hamliton, Belinelli and Taj Gibson were a bit much for them to handle.
But they simply raised their physicality levels, as Carlos Boozer went to work on Reggie Evans with a few beautiful trademark rainbow shots, while Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler did a great job in the paint, on both Lopez and made life a lot more difficult for Deron Williams, who did finish with 30 points and 10 assists on one of his best games of the season.
As usual, Nate Robinson found himself involved in the big plays down the stretch, after the Bulls lost Kirk Hinrich to six fouls, being dazzled out of his mind by Williams’ excellent night. So Robinson finished with 12 points, but most importantly the go-ahead basket with 22 seconds left in the game.
Was this the final preview to one of the first round series in the East? The Atlanta Hawks still have a say in the matter, and playing shorthanded for too long eventually helps you begin pile up losses. Still, the Bulls have been enjoying some excellent games from Boozer, averaging 19 points and 11.8 rebounds over the last five games, while the defense and rebounding of Deng and Butler almost makes you forget that their missing two very important big men. This Chicago team probably won’t go far once again, but they’re not taking these injuries lying down.