Boozer, Noah pick it up in Rose's absence

February, 17, 2012
2/17/12
8:20
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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DEERFIELD, Ill. -- For a year and a half, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah struggled to play with any consistency together. They both dealt with injuries last season and struggled to find their timing when they were on the floor. They became frustrated about the constant questions regarding their lack of production.

Some of that frustration must have shot through Boozer's mind late Thursday night after he and Noah combined for 38 points and 31 rebounds in the Chicago Bulls' impressive win over the Boston Celtics.

After making light of the fact that he had heard the question before, Boozer tried to explain why he and Noah were suddenly having success.

[+] EnlargeCarlos Boozer and Joakim Noah
Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesCarlos Boozer and Joakim Noah have picked up their games in February.
"Last year was last year," Boozer said. "Last year's over. We didn't have a good chance to play with each other consistently until the playoffs came. This year we played the whole year together. You can see how good our chemistry is out there together. We make plays for each other and it's usually either a dunk or a layup."

Boozer was right. The pair has been playing extremely well over the past few weeks, especially when the Bulls have had to play without Derrick Rose.

According to ESPN Stats and Research, Boozer is averaging 19.8 points and 7.5 rebounds over the past six games. Noah is averaging 15.3 points and 12 rebounds in that same span.

In the month of February Boozer is averaging 16.9 points, his highest average for any month this season and his best scoring average month since Feb. ’11), while Noah is also having his best month of the season, averaging 13.1 points and 10.8 rebounds. One of the biggest reasons is that both players seem to be going out of their way to find each other down on the blocks.

"It's one of their strengths," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. "They're both very good passers. They play well off each other, I think. The ball was moving. I think we had 27 assists, which is a good number on the amount of points that we scored. Their rebounding, the second-chance points are important for us. They're playing well together, yep."

Thibodeau is just hoping that hot play continues. The issue for Boozer and Noah is that nobody will remember how well they played in February if they both struggle to produce again in May and June. Each man understands that, but is trying to build on his recent success for now.

"I think I could have played better [Thursday],” Noah said. “I missed a lot of easy baskets around the rim. But I think it's all about winning. When Derrick comes back, of course, he makes the game a lot easier for a lot of us."

In the meantime, it's clear that Boozer and Noah have decided to pick up the slack. Given the rash of injury woes the Bulls have dealt with, it couldn't have come at a better time.

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5