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Saturday, January 22, 2011
Boozer feels OK about first game back

By Nick Friedell

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer knows he can play better, but after missing a week with a sprained left ankle, he was satisfied with his performance in Saturday’s 92-79 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"I was a little rusty," he said. "I didn't have the lift I wanted to have. Couldn't rebound the way I wanted to, but I pushed through it. [I'm] looking forward to the next one."

Boozer called the pain in his ankle "more of a soreness than a sharp pain" and said he could deal with it.

"Some good, some bad," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau summed up Boozer's performance. "Mostly what I expected. He had a week off without doing anything. He still had 20 [points] and 10 [rebounds]. He had one practice. He will get better and better."

Boozer's teammates are just happy to have him back on the floor.

"Having Booze back definitely helps," Bulls guard Kyle Korver said. "We're able to throw the ball down low more. When you play inside out your game's usually better. It's a lot more consistent, for sure. A lot of our offense goes through him and a lot of offense is pick-and-roll with Derrick [Rose] and Booze. That's the way we've played the last little while and to get back to that was nice."

Bulls hoping for a Bears win: Tom Thibodeau wants the Chicago Bears to beat the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday afternoon, but he’s more concerned about his own team’s goals.

"We got to keep our priorities in order first," he said before Saturday's game, when asked if he would cancel Sunday’s practice so his players could watch the game. "And we're certainly rooting for the Bears, but we have to take care of our business."

Luckily for his players, after Saturday’s win, Thibodeau canceled the practice. Don't expect Luol Deng to be at Soldier Field, though.

"There's no way," Deng said. "I've been here for seven years, I still can't deal with the cold weather. I don't think I'll get used to it."

The last word: Korver, searching for positives, other than Boozer’s return, from Saturday night's win.

"We had stretches where we played well and when we had to step up in the fourth quarter we did and that's always a good sign," Korver said. "But we didn't play a great basketball game."