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Bulls 95, Pacers 86

17 Dec 2011

Three Stars
1. Taj Gibson: 12 points (.558 TS%), 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, boundless effort
2. Derrick Rose: 16 points (.597 TS%), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 turnovers
3. C.J. Watson: 15 points (.750 TS%), huge early with Rose in foul trouble

A familiar recipe for victory in Friday night’s preseason opener, with great bench play and just enough Derrick Rose to hold off the Pacers in the second half. And then, of course, there was old friend Carlos Boozer, easing through the game as usual.

It drove me nuts all year, and it’s going to drive me nuts this year. I’m really going to have to work to give Boozer a fair shake in Year 2 of his massive Bulls contract. But you know, I’ve been keeping an open mind about the possibility that a healthy toe could make last season’s underwhelming performance a distant memory.

Nope. Not yet, at least. Same old Boozer, looking smooth — looking, as he jogged up and down the court, like the very model of a modern power forward, marrying brawn and brains and ball skills.

But the end result: 7 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 steal. He hit 3 of 10 shots, and played only 22 minutes because of fouls, including a notably lazy/clumsy effort up top defending a 1-4 pick-and-roll.

His true shooting percentage was .335. All the other Bulls, including Ronnie Brewer, Joakim Noah and rookie Jimmy Butler, were above .510.

Yeah, so it was bad. Again. And as great as it is to have the defending NBA MVP and arguably the league’s deepest rotation, Boozer’s ongoing lack of production is a huge obstacle on the road to a championship.

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