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Article updated: 10/30/2012 8:17 PM

Bulls will use team effort to replace Rose's production

Bulls forward Carlos Boozer says it will take much more than his scoring to replace the injured Derrick Rose.

Bulls forward Carlos Boozer says it will take much more than his scoring to replace the injured Derrick Rose.

 

Associated Press

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Carlos Boozer isn't trying to pass the buck. He just knows there will be nights when he passes the ball.

So to the question of whether he will be the guy to pick up the slack from injured star Derrick Rose, Boozer's answer is no.

"Everybody keeps saying, 'Oh, Booz, it's on you,'" he said Tuesday at the Berto Center. "No, it's not on me. It's not on Booz. it's on all of us.

"You can't replace Derrick with one person. There's only one Derrick Rose. We've all got to find ways to win."

There's a good reason why some have nominated Boozer to be the Bulls' go-to scorer. He performed that role well in Utah for six years. In the last three preseason games, the burly power forward averaged 20.3 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals and shot 52 percent from the field.

Coach Tom Thibodeau believes an NBA team should have three primary scorers. Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton are the logical candidates to join Boozer in that role.

"I think we have a lot of guys," Boozer added. "Lu's a proven scorer, Rip's a proven scorer. I'm a proven scorer. Nate (Robinson's) a proven scorer.

"I keep telling people, some nights Kirk Hinrich is going to have a big night. Some nights, it's going to be Nate. Me, Luol and Rip will be there every night, but you never know who's going to be the hot guy that night. …

"It's going to be all of us. We take on that challenge as a group. It's not one guy."

Boozer's sentiment sums up the state of the Bulls as they prepare to open the 2012-13 season Wednesday against Sacramento at the United Center.

Can they stay in playoff contention until Rose returns sometime around the all-star break in February? Or can they actually thrive without him and be a dangerous threat if he's back for the playoffs?

There's no better time than the eve of the season opener for expressions of confidence.

"I think the sky's the limit," forward Taj Gibson said. "I think with the right mindset, the way we practice, the way we played in the preseason -- everything is coming together right.

"I know we've got a lot of talent, and I'm looking forward to shocking the world."

The best scenario for the Bulls is if the five starters stay healthy. They're all experienced, established semistars who know how to execute Thibodeau's defensive formula.

During the past two years, the reserves often outplayed the starters. That might be the biggest question mark -- besides Rose's return date -- because the Bulls replaced Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer and Omer Asik due to economic concerns.

Gibson, Robinson and veteran center Nazr Mohammed looked good in the preseason. Shooting guard Marco Belinelli struggled, and second-year forward Jimmy Butler is a work in progress.

If injuries shorten a suspect bench, the Bulls might be in trouble.

"What makes me confident?" Joakim Noah asked. "Just how prepared we are, the character of this team. I think we all play for the right reasons."

If the Bulls play well and Rose comes back in February or March, it's conceivable they could be at full strength and be the team no one wants to face in the first round of the playoffs.

"I think it's an exciting season," Noah added. "We're a team that's gone through a lot of adversity. Our best player being hurt is probably the major one. Derrick, he'll be back. To me, that's exciting."

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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