- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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at TD Garden, 8 p.m. | ESPN, WEEI (850 AM)
GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
They evidently still have a long way to go before joining the ranks of the Boston Celtics.
The Bulls look to bounce back from an embarrassing loss in Boozer's debut Friday night when they visit the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics, winners of five in a row.
Returning home from a 4-3 circus trip -- its first winning record on the annual two-week journey since 1997 -- Chicago (9-7) was eager to face Southeast Division-leading Orlando on Wednesday with Boozer finally in the lineup. The Bulls were eager to show that they could stack up against one of the East's best teams, but were completely outplayed in a 107-78 loss.
Derrick Rose finished with a season-low 15 points -- 10.8 fewer than his team-leading average -- and Joakim Noah, second in the NBA with an average of 12.4 rebounds, failed to grab one in 25 minutes. Chicago was outrebounded by 23 and established a franchise low with 21 boards.
Boozer, who missed the preseason plus the start of the regular season because of a broken right hand, looked sluggish, finishing with five points and two rebounds in 22 minutes.
"I think our team (is) a lot better than we showed," said Boozer, Chicago's top summer free-agent acquisition. "We're going to move forward."
Chicago is hoping to move into the ranks of the conference's elite teams with the Magic and Celtics. Although the Bulls pushed Boston to overtime in 110-105 loss Nov. 5, defeats like Wednesday's makes it tougher for them to be considered a serious contender.
"We have to fight a lot harder," Thibodeau said.
Thibodeau knows what it takes to win a title. Before being named Chicago's coach over the summer, he was an assistant to Boston coach Doc Rivers for three seasons and was a part of the Celtics' 2007-08 championship.
Rivers' team is again playing at a championship level, tied atop the East with the Magic, and 8-1 at home.
Read the full preview HERE.
FORSBERG'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
KG vs. Noah: No need to rehash the specifics (hop HERE if you need a refresher), Noah sounded off on Garnett twice after the first Bulls-Celtics matchup last month, calling him "ugly" in the process. We've talked about KG's list this season. Needless to say, Noah has a permanent spot there. This matchup should be fun to watch.
Will Boozer be better? The Bulls got Carlos Boozer back from injury this week, but he looked woeful against Orlando on Wednesday as the Magic won by 29 at the United Center. Watch Boozer in the paint, last year he averaged 12.1 points in the paint per game last year, which was fourth in the NBA.
Rondo vs. Rose: Rondo's foot ailment surfaced last month against Chicago, but he noted it would take a lot more to keep him out of premium matchups like one against Rose. Expect another fun battle between two of the league's top young point guards.
10dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford