- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- The pain that remains in Carlos Boozer's left ankle became a lot more bearable after he dropped 16 points in his first game in two weeks and his team won by 40.
"I got my shots up even though I couldn't do too much on my ankle," he said after the Chicago Bulls' 132-92 win over the Sacramento Kings at the United Center. "But I felt good. I just played off my teammates. When you've got a lot of good players behind you, all you've got to do is play off them and take what's there. [Derrick Rose] gets a lot of attention; he's the MVP. I tried to do a good job of playing off him and when I get a shot I take it with confidence. And if I get double teamed I try to pass to whoever's open."
One of those people being Rose.
"It makes us feel good," Rose said of Boozer’s return. "Especially when you can put the ball into him, work off of him. Sometimes you've got to double team when he gets hot. We just told him to play his game, shoot the shots that he normally shoots. And tonight that's what he did."
After only playing a little over 25 minutes, Boozer said the ankle held up as well as could be expected.
"It felt great," he said. "I was happy with how strong it was through the course of the game. And also happy to get a lot of rest in that fourth quarter and get ready for [Tuesday]."
Bulls remember meltdown: The last time the Bulls played in Atlanta against the Hawks a few weeks ago, they let a very winnable game slip. Rose is convinced that won't happen again.
"You can't forget that game," he said. "I think none of us on the team have [forgotten] that game. You've got to remember it. I think that if we get a lead like that down there again, I think that we won't let them come back the way they did."
High praise: Kings coach Paul Westphal was impressed with what he saw from Rose and Co.
"The Bulls have legitimate championship aspirations. They're in it with four or five other teams."
When you carve up a defense the way Rose and the Bulls did to the Kings, I guess it's easy to understand why the veteran coach said what he said. The Bulls shot 71 percent from behind the arc.
"Coach told us, ‘Don't fall in love with the three,’ but sometimes we're just wide open and you have to shoot the shot," Rose said. "And he told us the game will tell you what to do. So guys that were open, or plays that got us open threes, we had to take them shots."
The last word: Boozer, on the Bulls’ expectations after getting to 50 wins: "That's what we expected. I'm used to being on 50-win teams. We didn't come here to win 50 games. We came here for much more higher goals. We're getting better. We're taking it step by step, but that's definitely a good step in the right direction."