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Article posted: 1/8/2013 7:14 PM

Boozer stepping up play in a big way

By Mike McGraw

In the last five games, Carlos Boozer is averaging 23.2 points, 12 rebounds and is shooting 53 percent from the field.

Of course, everyone knew he was capable of posting these numbers. He's made all-star and Olympic teams during his career. But this is a significant step up from his season scoring average of 15.2 points.

"I think he's playing his best basketball," center Joakim Noah said Tuesday. "He feels very comfortable out there. We kind of understand where he wants the ball.

"I think we're playing very unselfish basketball right now. Whoever's open is getting the ball. I think that's a sign of good things for this team. Booz is just killing it in the paint right now, so we're just giving him as many touches as possible."

Coach Tom Thibodeau didn't have a great explanation for why Boozer's production is up recently. But he did stand by the often-maligned power forward.

"He's played very well for us," Thibodeau said. 'I don't think he's gotten he credit he deserves. When you look at him, at the end of every season, how he measures up to other power forwards, he's always at the top.

"He's gotten more opportunities right now because people are searching him out and that's what the defense is telling us is open."

Skiles not a hater:

As he left the Milwaukee Bucks in the midst of his fifth season as head coach, Scott Skiles wanted to clear up one report.

Speaking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Skiles said a Twitter suggestion that he hated his team was "an absolute lie."

"There's always the normal coach-player friction that goes on," Skiles said. "This is, as NBA teams go, this is a good group of guys."

Milwaukee general manager John Hammond, a Zion-Benton High School graduate, had nothing bad to say about Skiles after the exit became official.

"He's in his fifth year and that's a fairly long run in the NBA," Hammond said in the Journal Sentinel. "This is a very tough business. We can start talking in clichés if we want and say the team isn't hearing the voice or the message isn't getting across.

"We can surmise things like that but I'd like to say I enjoyed my time working with Scott. He did an excellent job for us and we appreciate who he is and his time he had here and wish him nothing but the very best."

Thibs sees future coaches:

Scott Skiles isn't the only future head coach to play under Tom Thibodeau. At the end of Skiles' career, he worked with Thibodeau in Philadelphia with head coach John Lucas.

"It's interesting, because I had an opportunity to coach Avery (Johnson). I coached Vinny (Del Negro)," Thibodeau said. "So all three guys, you could see when they were playing, they would be good coaches. They studied the game, they gave everything they had each and every day. When you looked at them, you said, 'They have the right characteristics.'"

Thibodeau was then asked if any current Bulls are good coaching candidates. He smiled, scanned the gym and gave a response.

"We have a few guys I think would make really good coaches," he said. "At this point, usually early on in a career, no one wants to coach. They're smart."

Hinrich out again:

Guard Kirk Hinrich sat out Tuesday's practice because of a gash on his right elbow, which happened in the third quarter of Monday's win over Cleveland. His status for the Milwaukee game is unclear.

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