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Boozer makes Bulls debut vs. Magic

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Dec 1

Carlos Boozer made his season debut on Wednesday against the Orlando Magic, starting and scoring five points with two rebounds in 22 minutes of action.

“My hand felt great,” Boozer said following the game. “I went up and down. The first six minutes the game felt much faster than practice, but I settled myself down a little bit. I tried to get into the flow a little bit. I think it’s a starting point and it only gets better from here.”

Prior to the game, the two-time All-Star confirmed he planned to play as he left the United Center court following a warm up session around two hours before tip-off.

Since returning to practice on Monday, just shy of two full months after he broke the fifth metacarpal on his right hand, Boozer had a taken a wait and see approach, depending on how he felt after warm-ups. Before the game, Coach Tom Thibodeau said he’d start Boozer out playing seven to eight minute increments.

“It’s another quality player and obviously he’s a low post threat,” Thibodeau said of Boozer. “We think he will add a lot to our offense. Defensively, we think he’ll add a lot also because he’s a terrific rebounder. The better we can rebound the ball, the more efficiently we’ll be offensively because we can get out into the open floor.”

And while Boozer’s rust in his Bulls debut was to be expected, said Thibodeau, he wasn’t concerned and made a point to credit his energy against the Magic.

“The normal progression would be that we would practice [Thursday] and I think that he will get more comfortable and settle down,” explained Thibodeau. “As his conditioning and timing come around, he will get better. I would like to see what he normally does. He is great with execution, he’s got great hands, he set great screens, he is a very good pick and roll player. Once he gets going, that gets us another weapon where we can attack inside.”

Having played four seasons in Utah with All-Star Deron Williams, Boozer knows what it’s like to be paired with a top-tier point guard. Earlier in the week, he deferred to Derrick Rose as he spoke to the media, saying the Bulls are definitely “his team.”

“He’s proven that,” said Boozer of Rose. “He’s earned that; worked his butt off. You see how good he is, how great of a season he’s had already. [It’s] definitely his team.”

Rose appreciated the sentiment, but stressed that he wasn’t the only one taking charge and calling the shots.

“It means a lot,” Rose said of Boozer’s comment. “But there are four leaders on this team—me, Joakim, Lu and Booz. If there are problems on the team, we go to the four leaders and we talk it through. As far as this being my team, I’ve worked hard at it. I think I lead by example and [Boozer] is a big piece of this team too.”

Rose knows that Boozer will provide the Bulls a significant boost on both ends of the floor, while helping with the depth overall. But he cautioned that the necessary chemistry won’t set in immediately.

“It’s going to mean a lot,” Rose said of Boozer’s return. “But you can’t assume everything is going to be perfect. Our timing will probably be off and we’ll have to see. But he’s a great player for us. He’s been doing a lot in practice. He’s the only one that has energized legs, so he’s dunking everything.”

As for some of the other attributes Boozer will bring, his communication on the floor is second to none, said Rose.

“Always talking on the court,” he said of Boozer. “He talks more than Joakim. So you’re going to be hearing him a lot. He’s loud and definitely what we need on the defensive end because he lets everyone know what’s going on behind them.”

But does he talk more than Joakim off the court, one reported asked?

“No,” Rose laughed. “Not at all.”

Audio—Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau’s pregame comments (12.01.10):

Audio—Bulls guard Derrick Rose’s pregame comments (12.01.10):

Did you know…

– Chicago is presently in first place 1.0 games ahead of Indiana. The last time in which the Bulls were in first place in the Central Division on Dec. 1 (either outright or tied) was 1996-97when Chicago was 15-1 through November 30, 1996.

– After going 9-6 (.600) through the month of November, it marked just the second time in the last 13 season that the Bulls were over .500 in games played by through Nov. 30. The last occurrence was in 2005-06 when the Bulls went 7-6 (.538).

– Derrick Rose currently leads the NBA in Points + Rebounds + Assists with an average of 39.4. Rose is second in the NBA with 26.6 ppg, seventh in the league with 8.2 apg, and also averages 4.6 rpg. Russell Westbrook is second at 37.5.

– The Bulls are 8-3 this season when they hold their opponents under 100 points.

– Over their last 10 games, the Bulls have limited their opponent to just 95.2 ppg (952 points) and are 7-3 over that time. In the five games prior to that, Chicago allowed 105.0 ppg.

Bulls vs. Magic season notes

Over the last five seasons against the Magic, Chicago is 6-12 (.333) … the Bulls have not won at Orlando since their 100-76 win on March 8, 2007 … the Magic claimed the season series last year for the fourth year in a row by going 2-1 versus Chicago; the Bulls’ lone win against Orlando last year occurred Jan. 2, in a 101-93 win at the United Center … Orlando leads the all-time series with the Bulls 40-37 … the Bulls are 23-17 versus the Magic in Chicago … the Magic outscored the Bulls last year 103.7 ppg to 90.0 … in three games versus the Bulls last season, Dwight Howard averaged 13.0 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 1.67 bpg and 1.3 apg in 26.0 mpg …. Chicago is 2-4 versus Orlando in overtime games.

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