Bulls

Boozer optimistic about Bulls' early success

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Boozer optimistic about Bulls' early success

Friday, Nov. 19, 2010
Updated 11:33 a.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

DALLASWith the third game of Chicagos seven-game November circus trip approaching Friday evening, the Bulls have had mixed results at 6-4 on the young season. One uniquely tuned-in observer, sidelined power forward Carlos Boozer, is optimistic about the teams progress.

Im not surprised. I know how hard these guys work, how hard we try to pay attention and get better every day. Im not surprised at how well weve done, said Boozer before Fridays team shootaround at the American Airlines Center. In my opinion, I thought that we could have a couple more wins under our belt. Im definitely impressed by my teammates, but Im not surprised. They work their butts off and theyre good.

Boozer, who is with the team throughout the arduous road trip, also discussed his own recovery from his broken right fifth metacarpal with reporters.

One day at a time. As long as it keeps improving, Ill be happy with that so, thats where Im going to leave it atI do a bunch of strengthening drills with some clay and then I do a couple of different exercises to get the muscles in between the fingers and then the hand to get stronger because my strength isnt there yet, explained Boozer, whose hard cast (It was on for four weeks, but it felt like forever, he quipped) was removed Nov. 2 and stitches were taken out Nov. 11. I ice it down, of course, so it doesnt flame up on me. And then I come out here and do dribbling, passing and shootingjust around the rim, like in the paint areaand ice it down again, let it keep healing.

Obviously where it came from, its a lot better than that. The splint is almost gone. Just try to get the pain out of it, he continued. It hadnt been moved in almost a month, so thats a reason there was a lot of pain there.

Boozer noted, in a silver-lining type of reasoning, that the injury hasnt affected his conditioning.

The great thing about my injury is Ive been able to run a lot and stay in shape as good as I can, so when I get back out there to practicehopefully very soon; maybe in a week, week and a half, Ill be able to practice sometime this week Im hopingI wont be too far behind, said the two-time All-Star power forward, who expects to have a specially-designed protective fitting for his right hand when the team arrives in Los Angeles this weekend. I know my body. Its a good mix. Im getting the doctors advice and he wants me to wait until the eight-week mark. Im trying to listen to him and at the same time, listen to my body. Im trying to wait to the eight-week mark to get out and practice and have full-contact practice, but Im starting to get a little anxious.

Often the first player on the court to encourage his teammates after timeouts, Boozer believes hell seamlessly fit into the Bulls lineup upon his return because of the chemistry hes developed with his new teammates, although his on-court time with them has been limited to the first week of training camp.

Itll be a little bit of an adjustment because we havent been out there together in a game, but itll be smooth. Itll be an easy transition. Its not going to be a tough transition, predicted Boozer. His role will be the same one when I signed on to come. Just being there, being a presence, bringing my leadership and help us win, whatever that means.

Boozer has also been a mentor of sorts to younger players on the squad, such as power forward understudy Taj Gibson, whos struggled through a miserable 1-for-16 shooting stretch over Chicagos past two games after starting out the season with remarkably high shooting numbers from the floor.

Every player goes through that. I just told him to hang in there and keep playing. I think every great player, every good player, everybody thats played basketball has had a slump at some point, so I told him to just keep his head up, dont keep your head down and just keep playing. The only way you get back on track is to keep fighting through moments like that, recounted Boozer. I really didnt know that much about Taj until I got here, to be honest. But when I got here, he was very talented, very skilled, way more athletic than I thoughthes super athleticgreat attitude and got a high motor, so Im looking forward to playing with him.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Kris Dunn did it: You can’t play that position without an edge, without some form of “basketball killer” in you. Kris Dunn showed at the very least, he has that in his DNA in his best game as a Bull with a career-high 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Leave it to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to point out a forgotten stat: one turnover in 26 minutes.

“That’s the biggest thing I’m proud of,” Dunn said. “Everyone knows I’ve had a lot of careless turnovers in the season. It’s one thing I’ll take credit for.”

Dunn scored 13 with six assists in the fourth quarter alone as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 40-28 for the comeback victory. More than anything, it was his competitive spirit and aggressiveness that stood out. Kemba Walker stood across the way and gave Dunn—and the Bulls—every bit of 47 points.

“He tested my conditioning, for sure,” Dunn admitted. “He’s a great player. He’s been in the league for so long. It was good to go out there and compete with him.”

It could’ve went a different way had Walker not been bothered by Lauri Markkanen’s challenge at the rim, blowing a layup that would’ve given the Hornets the lead back with seconds remaining but he missed it and the narrative changed at least for a night.

And when teams are talking about learning experiences, it’s good to have them in a win every now and again. Markkanen’s challenge at the rim followed by his closing free throws right after, along with a quietly effective 16 points and seven rebounds, proved huge on this night.

Dunn finally having a confidence booster was imperative.

Dunn scored but it wasn’t an easy 20 or a smooth 20. It was an attacking 20, a necessary 20. He did hit some elbow jumpers, especially in the fourth as the defense laid off him.

But his biggest basket was a slithering drive to the rim for a layup with 2:24 left, because he attacked and was under control.

“That’s huge growth for Kris,” Hoiberg said. “He made the right play darn near every time he had the ball in his hands. Rose up with confidence, knocked down huge shots. Defensively got them going, got steals.”

What a relief: Nobody wanted to say it, but it bore out on the floor, the sheer desperation the Bulls played with.

Coming in with a five-game losing streak and headed out west to for four games in the next week, they were staring in the face of a possible double-digit losing streak to end November.

Confidence was sparse after three bad losses, and it’s a dangerous time for a team that will struggle to win games all season.

The United Center crowd got into it, particularly late when the Bulls began climbing back into contention to start the fourth quarter. The fans wanted this win too, even with the eyes being on a larger prize coming in mid-2018.

The relief was written all over Hoiberg’s usually-stress ridden face and he even cracked a couple jokes that weren’t aimed in his direction, as self-deprecation is normally his escape of choice.

“It is important but I asked the guys: is it hard to play with that type of effort? When you play with that type of energy and effort and swagger, it’s fun,” Hoiberg said. “When you play low energy and hang your head, it’s a drag. It’s hard to play at this level with that mentality.”

Starting change: Justin Holiday returned after his quick leave with his wife delivering a baby girl recently and his game-high 27 points showed he missed the Bulls as much as they missed his shooting, hitting four triples and going 10 for 15 from the field.

“Guys were serious about getting their jobs done,” Holiday said. “It was a lot of energy, a lot of energy, competitiveness. That’s how we have to play every night for our team to do well.”

Denzel Valentine, although he didn’t want to say it, wants to be a starter. Hoiberg chose Quincy Pondexter over him recently and then made the change Friday to insert Valentine for more scoring.

Valentine scored 18 with six assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes of run—and with those two starting as scoring options, the Bulls surpassed that seven-point first-quarter mark really early and scored 26 overall.

He hit a big triple in the fourth with 2:49 left to give the Bulls a 110-109 lead on a set play the Bulls actually executed between Valentine, Dunn as a setup man and Robin Lopez as a screen to pop Valentine open.

If he continues to hit 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip, especially with the way the Bulls have struggled to start games, he’ll have the right to feel he belongs in the first five.

“It’s definitely more confidence,” Valentine said. “You feel you’re an NBA starter, you get to go in and feel it out for a second and bring some energy to start the game.”

He didn’t mince words about starting, with a little honesty saying, “I think it’s huge being a starter.”

When asked if he felt validated by his performance and the result being a high-scoring win, it was just as telling.

“I think I deserve…I think I deserved a starting role,” Valentine said. “At the same time it’s different combinations, different people that need to be on the floor at certain times, so if he feels like I don’t need to start, I won’t start. But I feel very comfortable starting as well.”

Hack-a-Dwight: It could be Hack-a-Dwight, hack-a-Drummond, hack-a-Wilt or Shaq or Charles Shackleford.

The Bulls went to it and Howard went two of four from the line but it took a little rhythm from the Hornets and probably slowed Kemba Walker down just enough before he got cooking in the last 90 seconds and almost pulled a win out of his keister.

But…

I hate it. Get it out of the game completely.