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Sam: Much ado about Bulls' Boozer

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Sam: Much ado about Bulls' Boozer

Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 12:25 p.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLISThe only thing I care about is winning, Carlos Boozer explained. I dont care about the rest of it.

That should say it all. Not that hes apathetic, but despite the five-year, 76-million contract he signed in the offseason, it should now be obvious that the power forward simply isnt concerned about his production.

Actually, lets amend that assertion. Boozer would certainly like to play betterand so would his teammates, coaches and legion of Bulls fansbut hes come to understand that his play doesnt dictate the teams success.

Sure, hes bothered by the criticism. Who wouldnt be?

But in reality, the Pacers are devoting significant attention to Chicagos second-most established scorer and as long as he commands double teams and is a presence on the glass, Boozer is helping the Bulls win.

I liked the way he persevered. It was a tough game; foul trouble. I like the way he rebounded. He made the big shot late on the post move and things werent going his way, but he hung tough, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau after Thursdays Bulls win. Thats what you have to do in the playoffs. Theres a lot of things you have to get through. Theres adversity, sometimes calls arent going your way, sometimes youre in foul trouble, sometimes youre missing shots you normally make. You have to go through all that and then you still have to get things done in the end, and you have to have the belief you can get it done and he does.

I thought Carlos played very well. Rebounded the ball well, the ball went into the post, he had a big score late, he had three assists. He had the kick-out to Kyle, got us a wide-open three. Hes got to try to avoid foul trouble. Thats the thing thats taking him out of rhythm a little bit, but hes got to stay aggressive. Hes been in a lot of playoff games. He knows what he has to do, Thibodeau said Friday, a statement that probably has folks thinking he watched a different game. Its part of the responsibility when youre one of the best players on the team. That goes with the territory. Hes handled it extremely well. I thought he showed great poise in the fourth quarter. It wasnt going his way early, but he stayed the course, kept fighting. People collapse on him in the post. You have to, you do. You leave him single coverage, hes going to score.

The thing for Carlos is he just has to play. You guys worry about all that other stuff. Hes got to play to get his job done. Hes got to do what hes got to do for us, so if hes rebounding the ball, running the floor, getting deep post-ups, screening well, he doesnt have to score big points to play well. If theyre good shots and theyre his shots and hes missing them, thats part of the game. Hes still got to do all the other things to help the team win, so you have to have the ability to do well when youre not shooting well.

Thats par for the course for the predictable coach, who rarely criticizes his players publiclyand even then, hell only deliver a mild rebukebut Boozers teammates, although they could be biting their tongues, offered opinions in the same vein.

Carlos is fine, said Joakim Noah. Overall, Carlos is getting the ball where he wants it and its just a matter of time. Hes a very gifted player.

We expect big things from Carlos.

Echoed Derrick Rose: Hes going to find his way. Youve got to understand, theyre putting size on him and theyre doubling, so its going to be tough. Shots that he normally hits, he wasnt hitting Thursday, but rebounding, he was there. He just kept fighting.

Still, Boozer wasnt brought in to simply be a decoy. His defensive shortcomings would perhaps be more acceptable if he was putting up the 20-and-10 numbers expected of him, but that just hasnt been the case against a young, long and athletic Indiana frontcourt that smothered him for the better part of this first-round matchup.

In a physical series, foul trouble has been a convenient explanationit would be an excuse if the Bulls had dropped a game or twofor his offensive woes.

Tell me about it, Boozer responded when asked about the tight officiating. It throws your rhythm off a little bit, but for the most part, Ive been able to bounce back and do well, and were winning.

At the end of the day, all you can do is play. Youve got to be able to play through that kind of stuff. Sometimes the refs let you play, sometimes they call it tight, he continued. Its the playoffs. You cant sit down and worry about it.

You go on the road, things arent going to go easy for you. Youre not going to get the same calls you did at home; youve got to play through it.

Against the Pacers, as feisty as they may be, he gets a pass. As the postseason goes on, Boozer better heed his own advice and elevate his game or his season-long honeymoonthrough multiple injuries, seeming indifference on defense and inconsistent offensive productionmight just come to an end.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's 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.

Patrick Beverley tells Wojnarowski: 'Vinny Del Negro, he told me I didn't play defense'

Patrick Beverley tells Wojnarowski: 'Vinny Del Negro, he told me I didn't play defense'

Patrick Beverley's path to the NBA was an intriguing one, a true story of perseverance featuring many twists and turns. For those who haven't closely followed Beverley's career, the Chicago native and current Los Angeles Clipper had a three-year career overseas before he really caught on in the NBA, landing a multi-year deal with the Houston Rockets in 2013. Before landing with the Rockets, Beverley played for Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine), Olympiacos Piraeus (Greece), Spartak St. Petersburg (Russia) before landing in Houston but a lesser-known fact is that Beverley actually spent time practicing with the Bulls within the first two years of his overseas basketball career. 

On Saturday's episode of "The Woj Pod" hosted by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Beverley discussed the importance of glue guys, Kris Dunn's season and much more. One of the more interesting tidbits was the aforementioned workouts with the Bulls. Beverley responded to a Woj question about if he could've played with the Bulls had things went differently earlier in his career:

I worked in the summertime with the Bulls, I don't know, two-three years in a row, Vinny Del Negro, he told me I didn't play defense...

Beverley elicited laughter from the crowd but he is clearly (and some would say rightfully) still upset by those who didn't give him an opportunity along the way. He went on to say that there is a "dynamic that fans don't know" and "can only assume." In the interview, Beverley didn't give a specific year but he says "two-three years" and clearly states that Vinny Del Negro was the head coach, meaning that he likely scrimmaged with the Bulls at points during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

When you take a closer look at those rosters, the possible matchups Beverley had become incredibly interesting to think about. The 2009 Bulls had nine players scoring in double figures — and a 10th scoring 9.9 points per game in Kirk Hinrich — and the 2010 Bulls had six players scoring in double figures.

Beverley could've had matchups against Larry Hughes (12,0 PPG in '09), John Salmons (career-high 18.3 PPG in '09), Ben Gordon (20.7 PPG in '09), or even Derrick Rose (18.7 PPG from 2008-10). Out of that group, Gordon and Rose specifically, can make any defender look bad on their best day, so maybe Del Negro's mistake wasn't as egregious as it appears now. Either way, Beverley certainly hasn't forgotten the ordeal. 

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Derrick Jones Jr. takes down Aaron Gordon in an all-time great NBA Dunk Contest

Derrick Jones Jr. takes down Aaron Gordon in an all-time great NBA Dunk Contest

Ask anyone from Chicago around All-Star weekend, and you'll quickly learn the city breeds tough, gritty and relentless basketball.

Apparently, it also breeds controversial dunk contests.

Thirty-two years after Michael Jordan bested Dominique Wilkins in a contest at the Old Chicago Stadium that many agree saw a healthy heaping of home-cooking on the menu, Derrick Jones Jr. topped Aaron Gordon in an affair that sent shockwaves through the NBA universe. Here's the rundown:

Highlights from regulation

There was a special feeling about this one from the very beginning.

Perhaps white men can jump:

 

 

Dwight busted out the cape (again) — and tributed Kobe along the way:

 

Aaron Gordon at one point rattled off five 50s in a row:

 

The finish

In the end, it all came down to Gordon and Jones, who duked out a dunk-off that featured some absolute haymakers:

 

It was raucous fun, truly. But the controversy came at the finish. Jones' final dunk was an attempted reprisal of Julius Erving's famous free-throw line dunk (re-popularized by Jordan, partly in that aforementioned '88 contest), which registered a 48. Gordon then pulled out the 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall for an improvised leapfrog that nearly tore the roof down.

 

"It was a great decision for him to do that. Everybody knows Tacko's a fan favorite," Jones said. "I knew it was going to get the crowd hyped."

"He (Fall) was a little bit nervous. He was like 'I got faith in you.' I was like, 'I appreciate it,'" Gordon said.

That dunk, though, garnered only a 47 from the judges. Game, set, match: Jones. Boos cascaded from the rafters.

The reaction

That sentiment carried over into the postgame presser.

"What are we doing here?" Gordon bemoaned to assorted media before even taking his seat at the podium. "Jumping over somebody 7-foot-5 and dunking is no easy feat. What did I get, like a 47? Come on, man. What are we doing?"

All fair questions. All fair points.

"I don't even know who gave me the 9s. I'm going to find them," he added with a laugh. "Trust me, I'm going to find them tonight.

Dwyane Wade, Scottie Pippen and Chadwick Boseman... Look out.

Gordon did give Jones his due, calling him a "leaper" and "great dunker." Still, this appears to be the final contest of Gordon's career.

"It's a wrap, bro. It's a wrap. I feel like I should have two trophies," Gordon said, alluding to his defeat at the hands of Zach LaVine in 2016. "My next goal is going to be trying to win the 3-point contest."

Jones, meanwhile, contested the premise that Gordon was robbed at all.

"When I got that 48, it was tough because that was a dunk that I was doing since high school and I know that's 50-worthy. There's no way I should have got a 48," Jones said. "He clipped Tacko's head when he did that dunk, so I knew they couldn't have gave him a 50 for that one. I would have respected it if they gave him another 48, so we can go again."

In that event, Jones said he would have been ready.

"I just turned 23, I got legs for days," Jones said. Jones' birthday was the night of the contest, and he said he had dunks planned for as long as the judges allowed them to.

And though Jones hasn't yet thought about where this dunk contest ranks in the history of ones before, he's ready for the next challenge.

"Whoever want to step out there. I don't know. I'm not naming no names. I don't want to call nobody out, but whoever want to step out in front of me, I'm there. I'm not going to shy away from nobody."

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