Bulls

Boozer once again in spotlight for wrong reasons

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Boozer once again in spotlight for wrong reasons

PHILADELPHIA - For the second consecutive postseason, Carlos Boozer will feel the heat and this year the Bulls didnt even lose to Miami, ironically his offseason home. Boozer snatched 13 rebounds, fitting for a starting power forward in a playoff game, especially in just 27 minutes of play.

The reason he only played 27 minutes in an elimination game, one might wonder? Well, Boozer only mustered up three points and not for lack of trying, as he shot 1-for-11 from the field and made his lone free-throw attempt.

I just missed shots. Some nights are like that. Some nights youre on fire. Some nights youre not. Tonight I wasnt, said Boozer. My teammates did a great job of making shots. My teammates wanted me to stay aggressive, stay confident, keep shooting. They just didnt go in.

To his credit, Boozer didnt run and hide from the question. And in fairness, he was tremendous in both the Bulls Game 5 win at the United Center and for most of their Game 4 loss in Philadelphia.

But just like last spring, when the Bulls lost to Miami in the Eastern Conference finals, Boozer came up short when it counts. This should have been the time to redeem himself, as he played in all 82 regular-season games and with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah both out with injuries, Luol Deng playing hurt and Rip Hamilton clearly not fully trusted by Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, Boozer had the opportunity to be the go-to guy.

He played hard. It wasnt going his way offensively. That happens. When its not going your way, you have to do other things. His rebounding was terrific. Taj Gibson and Omer Asik got going defensively. Our rebounding and defense brought us back. We rode that group., said Thibodeau, who essentially made one second-half substitution, Gibson in for Boozer. Carlos had a terrific year for us. Didnt play well offensively. Passed well but didnt shoot well. His rebounding was excellent.

Unfortunately, that isnt what the Bulls needed - Deng corralled a game-high 17 boards and he plays small forward - Thursday night. They needed Boozer to deliver, something he again failed to do.

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Luol Deng is honored in win over Pistons

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USA TODAY

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Luol Deng is honored in win over Pistons

On this edition of Bulls Outsiders, Matt Peck, John Sabine and David Watson react to the Bulls 109-89 win over the Pistons.

1:00 - Reaction to the win over Detroit

3:25 - Viewer comment on Bulls still having hope in the Eastern Conference

4:30 - Did Lauri Markkanen finally break out of his slump?

6:30 - Viewer comment on Zach LaVine and if he still fits

8:15 - Shaq Harrison balls out starting at SF

9:30 - Big Dave does Shaq highlites

11:50 - Viewer comment on James Harden or Luka Doncic?

13:30 - Viewer question on who has bigger hands- Will Perdue or Kendall Gill?

15:15 - Bulls honor Luol Deng and 2009 Bulls team

18:05 - Viewer comment on greater Bull- Joakim Noah or Deng?

21:00 - Viewer comment on Otto Porter Jr.’s return

23:30 - Reacting to Derrick Rose’s comments about load management

Listen to the episode here or in the embedded player below.

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Shaq Harrison does it all in Bulls' drubbing of the Pistons, and he's not done yet

Shaq Harrison does it all in Bulls' drubbing of the Pistons, and he's not done yet

Shaq Harrison has just played the game of his season. In a 109-89 dismantling of the Pistons, the Bulls’ ‘next-man-up’ of the night did it all, scoring 15 points, snagging 11 rebounds and swiping three steals on a rather efficient 7-of-12 shooting. He was announced as the Bulls’ fifth starter just two hours before tip-off.

In the locker room after the game, Harrison was — unsurprisingly — all smiles. But emblazoned across the front of his bottom lip: a smear of blood.

To Harrison, it’s a badge of honor.

“This was the first play of the game,” he said, ever-congenial. “Welcome back.”

That’s the rare brand of attitude Harrison brings to the Bulls, and it takes only a brief spin around the locker room to see how much he is appreciated.

"Shaq's a dirty-work guy, and that first group needs it," head coach Jim Boylen said of what Harrison brought to the starting lineup.

“His defense is great, he always constantly puts pressure on guy[s],” Tomas Satoransky said. “We needed that energy.”

Energy is one thing, and Harrison certainly possesses that in droves — he likened himself to a “rabbit” on the court, chasing down loose balls, rebounds and transition opportunities. But to go from a spark-plug to a true impact player, there’s a deeper level of preparedness required.

If he hadn’t already, Harrison proved tonight that he’s the latter — or, at least, that he can be.

“Shaq’s a real pro, stays ready,” Boylen said. “He’s been working… It’s a credit to him. He’s a winning dude.”

“When you got other players that are playing in front of you, you can easily cry about it and complain,” Harrison said. “But I kept my head on straight and stayed the course, and everything worked out for me in the end.”

Against Detroit, Harrison logged more minutes (26) than he had all season to this point (23), and led the Bulls in plus-minus (+29), to boot. 

“It’s easy to talk with him about how we want to play, and I feel like communicating with him is a very natural thing for me,” Satoransky said of getting Harrison up to speed. 

On Harrison's ability to plug and play, even without a guaranteed role: “It says a lot,” Satoransky said. “And I think he just confirmed what I was thinking about him from last year, because with [the] Wizards, we played against them… He always put a lot of trouble defensively on us.”

The typical highlight-reel plays were there, as well, but when asked his favorite play of the night, Harrison cited his lone three-pointer (he was 1-for-2 from deep on the night), which gave the Bulls a 17-6 lead in the first quarter.

“That was my favorite one of the day,” he said. “Cause I worked so hard on it in the offseason.”

And the thing he’s most proud of?

“Most of all, I take pride in the win. That’s the main goal, and that’s what we got tonight.”

With starting small forward Otto Porter Jr. and his understudy Chandler Hutchison both injured and without concrete timetables for return, Harrison will likely see more opportunities to contribute to that main goal, moving forward. Boylen said he sees no reason to switch the current starting unit up, especially with a back-to-back coming this weekend.

Harrison, for his part, remains focused on the things he can control. The rest will work itself out later.

“Toughness and a dog mentality,” he said, on what he brings. “I’m always gonna be able to play 100 percent every single night. Whether my shot falling or it’s not falling, you’re gonna get 100 percent out of me."

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