Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer poured in 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting in the first half of Monday night’s lackluster 108-91 loss to the Denver Nuggets. But he scored just four points in the final 24 minutes and took only three shots, making one, in the Bulls’ disastrous third quarter, when they were outscored 27-16.
Boozer finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and a plus-minus of minus-seven – the “best” mark among the Bulls’ starters – in just 26 minutes of action. Rather than feeding the 6-foot-9 big man, the Bulls settled for plenty of jumpers, attempting only five out of their 17 fourth-quarter shots in the paint.
While the Bulls piled up 24 assists on 35 baskets, usually a winning formula, they committed 16 turnovers, as the Nuggets elevated their defensive trapping as the evening wore on. Bulls point guard C.J. Watson, again starting in place of Derrick Rose, had 17 points on 5-for-12 shooting but turned it over five times, while Luol Deng added four.
“You’ve got to try to get baskets in transition,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after the game. “Once their defense is set, [JaVale] McGee is very athletic and long. You’ve got to move their size, get them out of the lane, and then look to attack them. And we were sort of standing around, holding the ball. They’re fronting the post and we’re holding on to it instead of keeping the ball moving, making quick decisions.”
In one first-half sequence, Boozer, who scored the contest’s first six points, backed down energetic forward Kenneth Faried, seemingly with ease, and yet his teammates didn’t look for him much in the second half.
Thibodeau admitted the Bulls should have done a better job of looking for the hot hand, and that appeared to be Boozer in the low post.
“We’ve got to search him out more,” Thibodeau said of Boozer. “I think often times the pick-and-roll is probably the best way to establish the post-up game, because you can get post depth off of it and you can get size out of the lane.”
Korver finds outside touch: When it comes to Kyle Korver, one can usually tell early in a game whether the veteran swingman is feeling good about his stroke and will have a strong shooting performance.
Monday was one of those nights, as he dropped 14 points, 11 of which in the second quarter, on 4-of-4 shooting from three-point land. Korver had missed 6-of-7 shots in Saturday’s thrilling 102-101 win over the Toronto Raptors, but the sharpshooter found a rhythm in his 27 minutes of play against the Nuggets.
Still, the feeling in the Bulls’ locker room was the same as it always is after a loss – one of disappointment.
“We’ve got to look at the film, see what we did wrong, get our rest tonight and we’ve just got to come out and play harder,” Korver told the assembled media. “That’s the biggest thing. We’ve got to play with an edge. Obviously, we’re a good team. But if we don’t play with that edge, I don’t care who you are, this is the NBA and you’re not going to win.”