Game Notes: Thunder at Bulls
Carlos Boozer is a bad, bad, man.
by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford
Derrick Rose versus Russell Westbrook was the match up that everyone was looking forward to when the Oklahoma City Thunder faced off against the Chicago Bulls last night. Anytime you have two of the NBA’s mot exciting point guards going head-to-head there is always an intense anticipation. But with these two, because of the offensive firepower and supreme athleticism that both players possess and because they work out together every summer in California with trainer Rob McClanaghan, it makes the match up a little more interesting.
Said Tom Thibodeau on the Rose/Westbrook match up, “They way they attack, their aggressiveness, speed and quickness are very similar. At times, they can be a one-man fast break and they’re both great competitors.”
But basketball is a funny game sometimes. The exciting point guard matchup that everyone looked forward to never materialized.
Rose scored 11 points and had 9 assists on 3-13 shooting from the field, and Westbrook tallied 15 points and 7 assists on 7-18 shooting. Kevin Durant — who was benched by Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks in the third quarter — finished the game with 29 points, 15 of which came in the fourth quarter.
But the real story of the night was the steadily improving play of Carlos Boozer as he helped the Bulls avenge their opening night loss at the hands of the Thunder as they defeated Oklahoma City 99-90.
In only his fourth game back from a hand injury injury, Boozer had his best game of the season — including an array of circus shots – as he registered 29 points and 12 rebounds in 36 minutes. He also played very good defense on Jeff Green as he held him to 7 points on just 1-9 shooting. Boozer continued to display an improvement in building chemistry with his teammates and Chicago’s prayers of having a true back-to-the-basket, low-post threat appear to finally have been answered.
The two-man game between himself and Derrick Rose also seems to be rounding into form and both players certainly appreciate the talents of one another and each acknowledges how easy the game is when they’re on the floor together.
“Every day when we’re out there on the court, we get a little bit better,” said Boozer. “It’s going to be exciting to see where we are 20 or 30 games in — we’ve only played 4 games together — but we’re getting better and better, and we still have a long way to go. We’re not where we want to be and we keep that in mind too.”
“He makes the game easy,” said Rose of playing with Boozer. “I just have to pass it to him and he’s going to find a way to score or get fouled and that’s what we need right now on this team; somebody in the post or somebody down low that can really score and that’s him.”
Rose also spoke on the leadership that Boozer has displayed since being activated.
“It’s very comfortable knowing that he’s on the court. He’s a guy that’s going to play hard, do what he does, be a leader for this team — always talking. And I want to clear this up: He does talk more than Joakim, for sure. He talks way more than Joakim.”
His teammates echoed that sentiment.
And what does Noah think?
“He is very loud. He never stops talking, which is a good thing.”
While winning certainly makes everything seem rosy, it’s becoming clear that with Boozer in the fold this Chicago Bulls team is starting to build a cohesiveness that will make them a very tough match up for opposing teams as the season progresses.
“They present a lot of problems,” said Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks. “Rose is a handful. They’ve got some talented bigs that know how to play and do a great job of passing and rebounding. They’re one of the best teams in basketball.”