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Carlos Boozer’s great run will end when Derrick Rose returns to Bulls

Carlos Boozer Ivan Johnson

Carlos Boozer, Ivan Johnson

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TONIGHT

BULLS
AT CELTICS

The facts: 6, Ch. 26, 1000-AM.

Updated: January 18, 2013 11:49AM



BOSTON — It has been a 10-game stretch like no other for Carlos Boozer as a Bull.

A stretch three years in the making. A stretch that maybe, just maybe, a fan base finally can embrace.

But it will end at some point, and Boozer will go back to his familiar role: team scapegoat.

Since a Dec. 29 victory over the Wizards, Boozer, 31, has been the Bulls’ best player. He has averaged 22.6 points and 11.2 rebounds and shot 53 percent from the field.

Boozer has been unstoppable at times, especially in the paint.

“Carlos is playing at a real high, high level,’’ Joakim Noah said. “We just got to keep searching him out because he’s been dominant for a while.’’

So why will it come to an end? Because Derrick Rose is expected back in late February, and that’s the best way to slow down Boozer.

“When you’re playing with Derrick, because he’s so good and because a lot of the offense is predicated on the point guard for them, you’re not as aggressive doing the other things,’’ former Bull Kyle Korver said. “You’re told [by coach Tom Thibodeau], ‘Do your job, do your job, do your job.’ ’’

And Boozer’s job when Rose is back is a lot less sexy.

In his first season with Rose, Boozer averaged 14.3 shots and 17.5 points and shot 51 percent. Last season with Rose in and out of the lineup, Boozer averaged 12.8 shots and 15 points.

With Rose still rehabbing the surgically repaired anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, everyone was asked to step up. Early on, it was Noah and Luol Deng. Boozer, meanwhile, showed signs, but he was still inconsistent.

Something changed since late December, however, and while Boozer downplays it, Deng says something different has occurred.

Boozer never would admit it, but the negativity he was facing since arriving in Chicago did bother him.

“It’s just the way fans are,’’ Deng said. “I don’t think as a player you should listen to all the negative stuff. I think it will just bring you down. I know. I’ve been with Chicago for nine years now, and I’ve had my ups and downs.

‘‘I always say just keep working on your game. That’s what Carlos has done. We love the fact that it’s turned around for him, and now he just has to keep going and keep playing the way he’s playing.

“When it comes to basketball, I don’t think you should ever take it home with you. My whole thing is, and we’ve told Booze this, when you’re struggling, you’ve just got to spend time in the gym. I think for you to get this far as a player, you’re good. It’s just about keeping that in your mind.’’

Boozer will need to hang on to that because he’s not going to get near the 16.6 shots he’s averaging over the last 10 games when Rose returns.

“Derrick deserves to hold the ball a little bit more,’’ Noah said.

Noah’s hope is that Rose’s return will add to what the frontcourt has built this season, a nice thought but just not accurate. Stars score, and to score, the ball stays in their hands.

So enjoy it now, Carlos. It has been a nice run, but it’s ending soon.



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