The Chicago Bulls have all but given up on Carlos Boozer. Yes, he’s playing almost 30 minutes a night and averaging very close to a double double, but there’s not much hope in the organization that the 10-year veteran can give them back, on the court, what they gave him when he was signed for a huge contract.
Well, holding on to win the Milwaukee Bucks with a 93-86 win is one thing. Chicago were in a rut, losing four games in a row, desperate for something and someone to galvanize them with the prospects of having Derrick Rose anytime soon not being too optimistic. Boozer, when he was signed, was supposed to be the number two guy. Against the Bucks, on Saturday night, he played like that, scoring 22 points and bringing down 19 rebounds in a 93-86.
On second thought, maybe it isn’t that surprising. The Bulls eat the Bucks, even with all of their flash and great start to the season (now fallen to 6-5), for breakfast, beating them for the ninth straight time, including a fifth consecutive time in the Bradley Center. Not having an impressive frontcourt was always going to be a big problem for the Bucks, basing their fortunes on the talents of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.
Chicago ruled the boards. Not just Boozer with 8 offensive rebounds; Luol Deng grabbed 8 himself, Joakim Noah finished with 9 and Taj Gibson along with Jimmy Butler added 12 more from the bench. Rip Hamilton finishing with a surprising 22 points (averaging 13.3 this season) was another welcomed bonus to a team that is struggling to create and make things happen on offense. Kirk Hinrich is a better playmaker than Nate Robinson, but it’s not D-Rose, not even close.
The offense – the shot selection and decision making by the players looks ugly, as the Bulls hit only 39% of their field goal attempts and a very poor 4-16 from beyond the arc. Luckily, defense and that physical play came through once again, bringing the team back to .500. They went to the line 26 times, hitting 25 of those shots (Rip Hamliton had 10-10). The offensive boards and second chance shots did the rest, as the Bulls grabbed 20 offensive rebounds.
The Bulls are better than their 6-6 record, but not by much. Not when they’re scoring only 94.2 points per game and ranked among the lower third of the NBA with only 43.6% from the field and hitting a league-worst 28.1% from beyond the arc. It’s not the departure of Kyle Korver that caused this drop – it’s the stagnant offense that becomes slow and predictable when the defense isn’t there to create easy points.
The Bulls, offensively inept or not, are one of the toughest outs for any NBA team in the league, despite not having a real go-to-guy to depend on. Rip Hamilton heats up rarely these days, and there’s no real one on one threat on this team, despite Luol Deng’s effort to become one. It’s up to players the Bulls don’t have high hopes in, especially Carlos Boozer, to pick up the slack and show everyone that there’s more to this bunch of individuals, and especially him, with that amnesty clause threat always hanging over his head.