A visit from the dreadful Cleveland Cavaliers should also help.
Boozer looks to help the Central Division-leading Bulls earn their fifth win in six games Saturday night when they host a Cavaliers team trying to avoid losing 16 in a row for the first time in nearly 30 years.
Boozer rolled his ankle in the final seconds of Chicago’s 99-96 win over Miami last Saturday and hasn’t played since. The Bulls (29-14), who are already without leading rebounder Joakim Noah(notes) (right thumb), managed to win two of three without Boozer, who is averaging 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds, but it wasn’t easy.
After defeating Memphis on Monday, Chicago lost to Charlotte at home by a point the following night. The Bulls rebounded from that defeat with a gritty 82-77 victory over Dallas on Thursday. They averaged 86.7 points in the three games - 10.7 fewer than with Boozer in the lineup.
Chicago shot a season-worst 36.9 percent Thursday and didn’t score a single fast-break point for the second time all season, but still earned its fourth win in five games. Derrick Rose(notes) finished with 26 points despite missing 19 of 28 shots for the Bulls, who have pulled within one game of the Heat for second place in the Eastern Conference.
“A win is a win,” said Rose, averaging 28.8 points in his last five games - 4.1 better than his team-leading mark for the season. “Everything that went on in that game was kind of terrible, except the way we played defense.”
The Bulls held the Mavericks to 35.6 percent shooting, improving to 13-0 when their opponent shoots below 39.0 percent. Chicago is also 24-1 when allowing fewer than 95 points.
None of that bodes well for the Cavaliers (8-34), who shot 38.2 percent in Friday’s 102-88 loss to Milwaukee.
About an hour before Friday’s tip-off, owner Dan Gilbert hinted change was coming, but this season is likely already a lost cause.
Friday’s defeat with the 15th in a row for Cleveland, and its 25th in 26 games. The Cavs, who have also lost 19 consecutive road games since beating New Jersey by two points Nov. 9, haven’t dropped 16 straight since a franchise-worst 19-game skid to conclude the 1981-82 season.
“Nobody likes to lose,” said guard Daniel Gibson(notes), who had 15 points against the Bucks. “I hate to lose - with a passion. And for me to sit here and say I’m comfortable or I’m OK and it’s going to get better, it’s enough of saying that.
“Now it’s time to do it. You’ve got to do it. You have to go out there and play the game the right way. No more excuses. You have to go out there and do it.”
The Bulls have beaten the Cavs twice this season, winning 88-83 in Cleveland on Dec. 8 and 100-91 at the United Center on New Year’s Day. Rose totaled 57 points and 19 assists in those games.
Chicago can clinch the season series with a victory in this contest.