- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Carlos Boozer only had to spit out two words to get his point across.
"How much is your toe affecting your lift?" Boozer was asked after scoring just eight points in Wednesday night's 86-73 win over the Atlanta Hawks that evened the series at 1-1.
"A lot," he said.
Yes, Boozer had 11 rebounds in the game, but he looked like a shell of the player he was earlier in the season. He had no lift and is now dealing with something else he didn't have to worry about during the year: boos from the United Center crowd.
Through it all, Boozer continued to put on a positive face. He doesn't want to sit because he still believes he can help his team. Many will argue that Boozer isn't helping his team nearly as much as Taj Gibson is, but his teammates don't care what the fans think in this case. They're glad Boozer is still out there and trying to play through it all.
"It's definitely painful," Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer said of the injury. "If you've played the game, if you've played any sport, you know how painful something as small as turf toe is. It allows you to move, it allows you get your lift. But anything that he goes up there and gives us is a positive. He could be sitting out with an injury, but he's out there fighting it, toughing it out, and I think he played really well for us."
The sentiment was the same throughout the Bulls locker room.
"I know I've had the turf toe [injury] before, it's tough. It's a tough injury," Bulls forward Luol Deng said. "We all know he's having a tough time with it, but he's going out there and playing for us. And guys have been doing that all year. I've had the turf toe. It's one of those things that bothers you, whatever you do. As long as he's out there and playing as hard as he is for us, that's all we need."
"Oh man, he hasn't been able to practice in like two weeks," Bulls guard Kyle Korver added. "He's playing in a lot of pain. He's doing everything he can just to be out there on the floor. He still got 11 rebounds. He doesn't have the lift that he really wants, but it means a lot for us just to have him out there."
As for the booing, Brewer knows his teammate will just have to deal with it until he starts playing better.
"It comes with the territory," Brewer said. "It comes with the contract. It comes [with] being in a market like this. I think he's a strong-willed individual that has the standpoint that he wants to go out there and play well for his teammates, that's he's going to come back and do everything he can to get treatment and go out there and have his A-game next game. Whenever he has a performance like this I always look forward to the next game because I know he's going to go out there and try to play as hard as he possibly can so he doesn't have a letdown for his teammates."
8dMatt Walks, ESPN.com