The struggling Cleveland Cavaliers may have a difficult time slowing them down.
Looking for a third straight win, Bulls head to Cleveland for the first time since bowing out of last year’s playoffs in a five-game, first-round loss to the Cavaliers.
Boozer, who missed the first 15 games this season with a broken right hand, scored 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds—both season highs—Monday in a 99-90 win against Oklahoma City. It followed a 25-point, nine-rebound performance Saturday in the Bulls’ overtime win against Houston.
“We want to be an inside-out team,” first-year Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It’s important what Carlos brings to the team. He is such a threat in every in every aspect of transition.”
Boozer’s inside presence, though, has been a compliment to Rose’s up-tempo style, and the two are beginning to help each other’s game. Chicago (11-8) leads the Central Division with the help of Rose’s 24.9 points - third in the NBA - and 8.2 assists per game.
“He makes the game easy,” Rose said of Boozer. “If I pass to him, he’s going to find a way to score or get fouled. That’s what we need right now.”
Boozer, who signed a five-year, $76-million deal July 7, spent the first two seasons of his career with Cleveland, where he averaged 12.8 points and 9.4 rebounds. He spurned the Cavaliers to sign with Utah before the 2004-05 season.
“Our goal is to improve every game,” Boozer said. “We don’t look too far ahead.”
Since bolting for the Jazz, Boozer has averaged 20.1 points and 12.4 rebounds in seven career games against his former team, which has lost five straight by 22.2 points.
Cleveland (7-14) has given up 100 or more points in 12 losses this season, including a 117-97 defeat Tuesday in Philadelphia. That ended an 0-3 road trip for the Cavaliers, who hope to avoid their first six-game losing streak since Nov. 28-Dec. 8, 2007.
Coach Byron Scott questioned the effort of his team.
“I’m very disappointed with this whole road trip,” Scott said. “I don’t know where the sense of urgency is right now, especially on the defensive end. Guys have to take more pride and ownership in the fact that they have to guard their man.”
Leading scorer Daniel Gibson(notes) had 16 points off the bench, but he’s averaged only 5.5 in 11 career meetings against the Bulls. Despite a difficult start to the season, Gibson said the Cavaliers can be better - it just may take some time.
“I think every guy in this locker room hates losing,” Gibson said. “You can just tell and feel it from the way everyone walks around, but because of that, we’ll get better.”