Boozer back in the mix as Bulls set sights on 50 wins


Mar 21

Carlos Boozer will be back in Chicago’s starting lineup after a five game absence due to a left ankle sprain when the Bulls host the Sacramento Kings on Monday at the United Center.

With a victory against Sacramento, Chicago would post its 14th 50-win season in team history and hang on to at least a tie for the Eastern Conference lead.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said that Boozer will start and indicated that his minutes will not be limited.

“[He’ll play] whatever he can tolerate in terms of his conditioning, as he’s been out awhile,” said Thibodeau. “But he’s got the green light.”

Boozer, averaging 18.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 32.2 minutes per game this season, was injured during the Bulls’ win over the Bobcats in Charlotte on March 9. He returned to practice on Sunday and also participated in the team’s shootaround Monday morning.

“We’ll go back to our [regular] starting lineup,” said Thibodeau as to how Boozer’s return would impact Kurt Thomas. “I want to keep the second unit together.”

The Bulls, also, expect to have the services of Taj Gibson on Monday. Thibodeau said that Gibson, who is nursing an injured right big toe, would play providing there were no issues that arose while he warmed up.

As for taking on the Kings, Thibodeau would like to see a quick start out of his club against a Sacramento team that has proven they can score in bunches.

“We’ve got to be ready,” said Thibodeau. “They put 127 points on the board [Sunday at Minnesota] and they can score the ball. We have to play defense from the start of the game. They’re a great rebounding team. So when that ball is up on the board, we’ve got to get in a fight.”

Double Trouble

Dating back to the Chicago’s inaugural campaign in 1966-67, only once in team history have the Bulls had two players who averaged a double-double over the course of a single season.

In 1976-77, Artis Gilmore (18.6 ppg, 13.0 rpg) and Mickey Johnson (17.3 ppg, 10.2 rpg) each posted double-double averages. That number could double to two this year if Boozer (18.3 ppg, 9.6 rpg) and Joakim Noah (12.4 ppg, 11.3 rpg) each post double-doubles this season.

Bulls vs. Kings season notes

Chicago owns a 1-0 season series lead after defeating the Kings earlier this season 96-85 at Arco Arena … Derrick Rose led the way with 30 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, while Jason Thompson added 18 points and nine boards for the Kings … last year, the two teams split the season series (1-1), with each team winning on the other’s floor … Sacramento defeated the Bulls 102-98 following a 35-point third quarter comeback by the Kings … Luol Deng led the Bulls against the Kings last year with 21.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.00 spg and 1.00 bpg in 41.5 mpg; Deng shot .594 from the field against the Kings … Tyreke Evans paced Sacramento against the Bulls with 21.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.00 spg, 1.50 bpg and 43.0 mpg … the Bulls are 6-15 against the Kings over the last 10 years … the Bulls are 40-29 versus the Kings all-time in Chicago but are just 3-7 against them in the Windy City in the last 10 encounters.

Audio—Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s pregame comments (03.21.11):

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