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No magic for Bulls in Boozer's debut

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No magic for Bulls in Boozer's debut

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010
Updated 12:16 AM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Sometimes one team just has anothers number. Sometimes numbers tell the story. Sometimes the storys even simpler than it seems.

In Carlos Boozers Chicago debut, the Bulls (9-7) were shellacked by the Magic (14-4), 107-78, mirroring the vicious beating they took in Orlando during the preseason.

While not reflected from the very outset, the Bulls low energy, regressed defensive and shockingly poor rebounding were seized upon by the visitors.

They beat us in every facet of the game, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, speaking without a podium, as if the blowout defeat meant he was stripped of the privilege. You cant allow a team like this to get off to a start like they did.

We dont want to make any excuses. We thought the start of the game led to our demise, continued Thibodeau, who listed a litany of his teams flaws on the evening, including defense of the pick-and-roll, post and perimeter varieties rebounding and stagnant offense. Theyre a heck of a team, a well-balanced team."

But Thibodeau was reluctant to blame the teams poor play on the team incorporating Boozer into the system.

Its hard to say, said Thibodeau. We were low energy, we played without pace, so we didnt get any scoring opportunities and we didnt make quick decisions, which you have to do against this team.

We had 21 rebounds as a team so I thought we werent reacting the way we would like, he continued. They did a good job. They were into us. Weve got to fight a lot harder.

As for Boozer himself, the two-time All-Star power forward finished with five points and two rebounds in over 21 minutes of play. While disappointed in his own performance, Boozers energy was to be commended, although the results werent there yet.

I would say the first four or five minutes, the games were a lot faster than our practices were for me, so it took me a little bit of time to adjust to it. But I did a better job of adjusting to it as time went on in the game, said Boozer, who said he felt no ill effects to his injured right hand afterwards.

Looking back on it, you feel rusty now, but I didnt feel bad out there. My legs were good, my wind was good. I just didnt do too many good things out there, didnt get a lot of rebounds, didnt play good enough defense. As a team, we didnt play our best game tonight.

That was to be expected. It was his first game, added Thibodeau. I liked his energy and itll only get better. I thought he had some good catches in the paint and those were shots that he normally makes.

It feels great to have him back, but this is a process and weve just got to keep grinding and keep getting better. He hasnt played in a while, but I think that as a team, its not about one player on this team, chimed in Joakim Noah, who scored 16 points but was amazingly held to zero rebounds. It never has been. As a whole, weve got to control what we can control and we definitely have to rebound the ball better.

Rebounding was certainly a central theme, as the Bulls a premier team on the backboards in the league corralled only 21 rebounds to Orlandos 44.

Although Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard is an elite interior player the visitors concerted effort to get him the ball in the early going led to them being able to pick apart Chicago with penetration from point guard Jameer Nelson and swingman Vince Carter, not to mention deep shooting from their legion of marksmen the Bulls typical gang-rebounding approach usually is enough to stave off inferior rebounding squads.

Not on this night.

Its frustrating to lose the way we lost. I feel like were obviously a better team than we showed tonight. We got outrebounded by a lot, opined Noah. It just shows weve got a long way to go.

Thats my job, to rebound the basketball, and I wasnt able to do that tonight, so Ive got to a better job of that. Come in tomorrow, work hard and get ready for the next one, added the always-tough self-critic. Howard is obviously a load to handle, but theres no excuses in this league. Hes obviously one of the best for a reasonIve got to do a better job rebounding the basketball.

In Boozers mind, the Magics outside shooting the United Center guests shot 10-for-21 from long range was Chicagos major issue.

The biggest thing was their threes. They had 10 threes. After the first maybe five or six minutes, they gave it into Dwight every time. We started collapsing in the paint, Jameer started driving, we started sinking in a little bit, leaving their shooters wide open. By the time we got back to their shooters, the shot was already up and in the air, he said.

Added Derrick Rose: They did a good job with putting the ball inside and making us work on digging and getting out to their shooters, and thats their type of game.

To Rose, however, the circumstances surrounding the game played a part in the teams less-than-inspired showing.

Of course, games like this are always going to be rough first game back from a long road trip but weve just got to get used to playing with each other. I knew it wasnt going to be pretty or anything, but when we get our connection going, I think well be all right, said Rose, who scored 15 points and four assists. The first game back from a road trip usually is kind of hard. Weve just got to find it and not put our head down.

Rose expects the chemistry and cohesion with Boozer to develop in time and finds it understandable that an immediate connection isnt there yet.

He took a long time off, where he didnt touch a ball for a while. When he did, his timing wasnt right there. But we already know what type of player he is and hell get his game back pretty soon, explained Rose. Time will tell. Hes a basketball player and the only thing he needs is a couple of days or so, a couple games, and hes going to be back.

Added Thibodeau: The normal progression will be tomorrow, practice. I think hell get more comfortable and hell settle down. As his conditioning and timing comes around, hell get better and better.

The rookie head coach doesnt expect Boozer to be his old self right away. Rather, it sounds as if he just wants him to fit into the teams scheme for the time being.

To me, it starts with a defensive mindset. Rebound the ball, get us into the open floor, get some easy scoring opportunities. Hes great with execution, sets a great screen, very good pick-and-roll player, so I think thatll help. When hes catching in the paint, hes got great hands, said Thibodeau. When he gets going, that gives us another weapon where we can attack inside.

Boozer himself boils it down to a much simpler strategy after a debacle like this: The good thing is weve got practice tomorrow and weve got a chance to get back at it on Friday.

See? Simple.

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: Getting to know the Bulls Outsiders team; bold predictions for this season

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NBC Sports Chicago

Bulls Talk Podcast: Getting to know the Bulls Outsiders team; bold predictions for this season

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, the Bulls Outsiders team of Matt Peck, David Watson, and John Sabine join Kevin Anderson to talk about the series premier of ‘Bulls Outsiders’ Thursday night. Hear about how the show came together and what they are hoping to bring to the Bulls fanbase this season. They’ll also share their bold predictions for the season including two potential end-of-season award winners from this roster.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Kris Dunn thinks Zach LaVine could be 'a good defender in this league'

Kris Dunn thinks Zach LaVine could be 'a good defender in this league'

We all know what Zach LaVine is capable of doing on the offensive side of things. But what about his defense?

It's no secret that LaVine has had his fair share of struggles on defense, but Kris Dunn thinks highly of his 23-year-old teammate and what his potential is at the other end.

"On the defensive end I just told him, 'You're as fast as me. You're more athletic than me. There's no way you shouldn't be a good defender in this league. You could be one of those guys who could be dynamic in the passing lanes because you're so athletic and fast.'" Dunn said of LaVine. "And personally, I like to score. If you get in a passing lane, that's a dunk for yourself and because you've got so much bounce that's when you get the crowd on their feet — maybe do a windmill, a 360, something.

"But I think he's been going a good job on the defensive end. It's not going to be easy. We all got to learn and I think we're all trying."

Improving his defense would obviously be a big step forward for LaVine (and the Bulls), and he knows it. 

“I think I had a lot better focus on the defensive end,” LaVine said when assessing his preseason. “I had some mistakes too, but I wanted to go out there and just really hone in on being more focused down there. I felt like I did OK with that. Still some areas I want to get better at, definitely off-the-ball I think I did a lot better than I had before.’’

LaVine and the Bulls travel to Philadelphia to face the 76ers on Thursday night in their season opener. You can watch Bulls Pre- and Postgame Live on NBC Sports Chicago before and after the game for highlights and analysis.