Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Carlos Boozer returned from a nagging calf
injury that cost him three games and totaled 15 points and 10 rebounds to help
the Chicago Bulls head into the All-Star break on a high note with a 92-76
victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
Boozer's replacement in the starting lineup when he was sidelined, Taj Gibson,
chipped in with a 16-point, five-rebound effort in a reserve role, and Joakim
Noah continued to fill the stat sheet with 14 points, 13 boards and seven
"We have to look at our team in totality. For us to achieve, we need Carlos to
play well. With our depth up front, we have three starters and they all have
to sacrifice," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
Chicago, which has taken four of its last five, owned a 45-27 rebounding
advantage and held a Nets team that had won four of five coming in to a
season-low point total on 38.8 percent shooting.
Paul Pierce led the Nets with 15 points but was held scoreless in the fourth
quarter. Brookyln's lone All-Star, Joe Johnson, provided 11 points on 4-of-14
"We need to play better defense when Kevin [Garnett] comes out of the game. We
sustain when he is in there, but he can't play 34 minutes," said Pierce.
Six of the 15 turnovers created by the Bulls came in the opening quarter, one
coming off a steal by Jimmy Butler that saw Kirk Hinrich run the fastbreak and
send a lob back to Butler, whose deft touch pass to Noah resulted in an
uncontested dunk and an 18-11 Chicago lead early on.
Butler's reverse layup and Nazr Mohammed's jumper opened the second-quarter
scoring and stretched the margin to 33-19, and it was a 49-41 game at
Pierce scored eight points in the first 4:01 of the third, with his two free
throws cutting the gap to 56-53. Chicago, though, scored 11 of the next 13
points to regain its double-digit advantage, and a three-point play by Deron
Williams in the closing seconds of the third pulled Brooklyn within 69-61.
The Nets were again within three, 75-72, following the first 3-pointer of
Andre Kirilenko's season midway through the fourth, and again the Bulls had an
answer with nine consecutive points.
D.J. Augustin countered Kirilenko's triple with a deep make of his own, and
the run was capped when blocks by Noah and Butler on Andray Blatche on the
same possession led to a Gibson jumper at the other end.
It was a double-digit game for the final three minutes.
Chicago is two games over .500 (27-25) for the first time since it was 6-4 on
Nov. 21 ... The Bulls have won the last four meetings, including a Christmas
Day victory when they held the Nets to 78 points, which was their season low
prior to Thursday ... Butler and Mike Dunleavy each had 14 points for Chicago
... Brooklyn's first six games after the break will be on the road.