While it's easy to suggest Carlos Boozer's higher numbers against Minnesota on Wednesday were a byproduct of center Joakim Noah missing the game with a sprained ankle, there is not much evidence to support the theory.
Boozer's issues are more a symptom of his limited chemistry with Derrick Rose than Noah invading his space in the lane.
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First of all, keep in mind that Boozer's 24 points against the Timberwolves were his highest scoring total since he scored 24 at Toronto on Feb. 23. Before that, he tallied 24 against Indiana and 27 against Detroit.
What do those opponents have in common? Horrible interior defense.
Boozer has had some nice games against quality teams, such as 31 points at Philadelphia and 29 against Oklahoma City. His best games tend to come against bad teams and in general, that's how most NBA players operate.
Boozer's production started to drop this season before Noah came back from a thumb injury on Feb. 23. One possible turning point was Boozer's first sprained ankle, which happened late in the Jan. 15 win over Miami.
Before that ankle injury, Boozer averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds. He missed just three games and since returning, has averaged 15.6 points and 8.8 rebounds.
This has led many to ask if Boozer is completely healthy, a question that both he and coach Tom Thibodeau have repeatedly dismissed. When asked about Boozer's diminishing numbers, Thibodeau suggests the Bulls haven't gotten him the ball enough. The coach wants the ball to go back into Boozer after he passes it out of the post.
Following the 108-91 victory over Minnesota, Boozer did acknowledge that he and Kurt Thomas mesh well together. Thomas will spot up for medium-range jumpers and can play off Boozer's post ups.
"It's just a little different," Boozer said after the game, according to espn.com. "Kurt is a pick and pop guy, so it opens up spacing out there. Like you saw in the first quarter, they collapsed a little bit on me and gave him wide-open jump shots. As the game went along, they started getting closer and closer and closer to Kurt and it gave us more space to operate in the middle."
Noah's tornado jumper from the foul line has improved over the years, but has been largely absent since his return from a torn ligament in his right thumb.
In some ways, Thomas is a better fit next to Boozer, but he scored just 6 points against the Timberwolves. The biggest issue is the Bulls' style of offense. They don't dump the ball into Boozer very often and let him go to work in the post. That might happen early in a game, but they tend to forget about it.
The frequency of pick-and-rolls with Rose and Boozer are minimal. When the former Utah power forward signed with the Bulls last summer, post-ups and pick-and-rolls figured to become staples.
Maybe Boozer doesn't have the same post-up skills he used to. He and Rose clearly don't have great chemistry yet on the pick-and-rolls. So when the Bulls need a basket, they revert to what's worked -- Rose making something happen.
Boozer's scored most of his points lately when Rose drives, draws the defense and dishes off a pass. Boozer has great hands and is one of the NBA's best finishers around the basket, so this is a nice option.
Ultimately, though, the Bulls need to find ways to rely on Boozer's scoring and allow Rose to sit back and rest for a couple of offensive possessions.
Maybe this is good news. With a 54-20 record, the Bulls still have room to improve.