Nuggets’ Karl expects Boozer to help Bulls take next step


Nov 8

Denver Nuggets coach George Karl put an interesting spin on the Carlos Boozer injury that has sidelined the Bulls’ prize free agent acquisition for what will likely be the first two months of the season.

“My feeling is that the Boozer injury might be good for them from the standpoint that [Joakim] Noah is taking more responsibility and [Taj] Gibson has been stronger,” Karl said. “When Boozer comes back, will they be able to share the spotlight? I think they will. [Boozer being hurt] also gives more of an opportunity to the guys they signed [because] they need to play well for [the Bulls] to be successful.”

For someone who is seventh on the all-time list with 990 career coaching victories in the NBA heading into Monday’s game against the Bulls and has spent his last seven seasons in Denver—meaning several meetings against Boozer and his old Jazz teams—Karl’s point certainly provides food for thought.

“Boozer will give them a different face than they have now,” Karl speculated on Boozer’s eventual return. “They will be able to throw the ball into the low block however many times they want—10, 15 or 20 times a game. Boozer is a very intelligent player. He’s very good at the pick and roll, and the high post. I think he and Noah will work very well together. Gibson seems to be picking up a little of the high post stuff too.

“I’m a big Boozer guy,” Karl continued. “He’s very capable of making this team make the next step pretty easily if he’s healthy.”

Chicago certainly hopes that will be the case sooner than later. Boozer’s cast was removed from his right hand on Nov. 2 and the power forward’s rehabilitation process is underway. No timetable for his return has been set and his on-court activities have been minimal thus far. But as Karl reiterated, it could be a blessing in disguise if Boozer remains healthy for the remainder of the season.

“In the end, injuries can help your team find out where it is and what it can be because you’ve got to play guys that you might not play if you didn’t have injuries,” said Karl.

Karl’s Nuggets know a thing or two about injuries this season, as they’ve caused the team to go with a smaller lineup thus far with Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen out recovering from knee surgeries. But they’ve won their last two games, including an impressive victory in Dallas on Saturday in which the Nuggets outscored the Mavericks 24-13 in the final frame to secure the 103-92 victory.

Still, Karl warned that now might not be the best time to face the Bulls, coming off of two straight tough losses to the Knicks and Celtics.

“I’m scared to death of tonight’s game,” said Karl. “I think they’re going to come out with some intensity and energy.”

Free as a bird

Karl is among those who have taken note of Derrick Rose’s rapid rise to the ranks of the NBA elite. He singled out one factor that allows Rose to take full advantage of his speed, strength and playmaking abilities.

“I don’t know who has as much freedom—Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose or Steve Nash?” Karl said. “Those four guys have more freedom with the basketball than anybody in the game.

“This kid is good,” continued Karl. “He’s dynamite in the open court. He’s gotten better with his left hand and weaknesses. He’s making shots. Right now, you’re just trying to figure out how to control his impact. You’re not going to stop him; you’re just going to hopefully control him.”

Bulls vs. Nuggets season notes

The Nuggets own a narrow lead in the all-time series 40-36, with the two squads splitting the season series the last five out of six seasons (Denver swept Chicago last season for the first time since the 2003-04 season) … last year, Denver took the first game of the series 90-89 at the United Center (Brad Miller’s buzzer beater with 0.3 seconds was waved off by the officials) … both Derrick Rose (22 points and five assists) and Luol Deng (21 points, six rebounds and five assists) led the way for Chicago, while Joakim Noah grabbed a career high 21 rebounds to go along with his 12 points … Carmelo Anthony posted a team high 20 points for the Nuggets … the Bulls are 10-28 against the Nuggets in the Mile High City and 26-12 against Denver at home … Chicago is currently on a four game road losing streak against Denver, with their last win in Denver coming during the 2005-06 season … Chicago is 3-1 against the Nuggets at the United Center over the last four years.

Audio—Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau’s pregame comments (11.08.10):

Audio—Nuggets Coach George Karl’s pregame comments (11.08.10):

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