Boozer listed day to day as injury not serious


Mar 10

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The Bulls Thursday got good news on Carlos Boozer’s sprained ankle.

General manager Gar Forman said X-rays and an MRI taken Thursday morning on a return to Chicago were negative and the team is listing Boozer day to day.

That means he could play Friday against the Atlanta Hawks, but that seems highly unlikely.

Boozer still had swelling in the left ankle he fell on after sustaining a flagrant foul from Kwame Brown late in the game.  A league official said Thursday the call stands as a flagrant one and no further action will be taken.

Based on previous experience and those kinds of injuries around the NBA, it would seem highly unlikely Boozer would play this weekend against the Hawks and Jazz and more likely not at least until the back to back road trip March 17 and 18 in New Jersey and Indiana.

Which wouldn’t be all bad.

It would give Boozer some time to heal and give Taj Gibson a chance to gain some regular minutes. Gibson seems to have struggled with the on and off bench minutes he’s gotten this season since Boozer returned from his hand injury in early December.

Gibson’s 14 points in 22 minutes in the win over Charlotte Wednesday was his most effective outing in more than two months. Gibson had entered two minutes into the game with Boozer in foul trouble and played more in the starters’ rotations.

Boozer has been slumping some of late.

He is averaging 12.8 points and 8.4 rebounds in the five games in March while shooting 42.4 percent. Boozer is averaging 14.4 points and 7.9 rebounds over the last 10 games. Overall, though, he is averaging 18.3 points and 9.6 rebounds, which compare favorably with his career numbers. He seems not to have gotten back in sync since the return of Joakim Noah from injury. Boozer’s last game of at least 20 points was in Noah’s first game back against Toronto after the All-Star break.

Boozer had a similar ankle injury in mid-January when he missed three games. Although the team said the injuries are similar, this one seemed more serious from the weight Boozer put on the ankle and foot when he went down.

Gibson is expected to return to the starting role he had when Boozer was out in November and Luol Deng likely will play more power forward as coach Tom Thibodeau tends to be more comfortable with his veterans in small lineups.

With Boozer likely inactive, Rasual Butler would be activated for the first time as a Bull and Kurt Thomas figures to play for the first time since one appearance when Noah returned. Since then, Thibodeau has gone strictly with Omer Asik as Noah’s backup.

The Hawks came back strong behind Al Horford to beat the Bulls last week in Atlanta as the Bulls got a look at new Hawk Kirk Hinrich as well. Josh Smith was out, though he will play Friday. He is a tough matchup for Boozer with his jumping ability and Gibson and Deng may give the Bulls a better look on Smith, who too often ignores his own strength and shoots jump shots.

Look for another battle between Horford and Noah as Horford seems to get up to play his former U. of Florida teammate more than anyone in the NBA.

The Jazz Saturday in the 20th anniversary championship celebration game could be without forward Paul Millsap, thus limiting any loss for playing without Boozer. And the Bulls then host the slumping Wizards next Tuesday in the United Center before heading out East again.

So it likely wouldn’t hurt not to have Boozer those three home games. The important point for the Bulls is it wasn’t a serious injury and Thibodeau feels they were well fortified after surviving without Boozer for a month and Noah for two months to handle a week or 10 days without Boozer.

Given the uncertainly of such ankle injuries, the Bulls are in no position to guess when Boozer will return. But he should not miss a significant period of time, it would seem.

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