- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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PHOENIX -- In the midst of trying to push past the drama surrounding Carlos Boozer's recent comments about his frustration with a lack of playing time in the fourth quarter, Tom Thibodeau offered a reminder to Boozer and everyone else that he's the man in charge.
"You guys, you've been around a long time," Thibodeau said after the Bulls' impressive win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night. "This is four years now -- I'm not changing. I'm going with the guys who I think give us the best chance to win, I don't care who they are. So when we hit that six-minute mark it's based on what we're doing and what we need, and that's the way it's going to be."
Thibodeau was pleased by the way Boozer played on Tuesday -- the veteran forward scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds -- but his message was clear: Earn your time and close your mouth.
Boozer aired out his frustrations to the media before Monday's game against the Sacramento Kings, saying he would like to get on the floor in crunch time. Thibodeau has repeatedly replaced Boozer with Taj Gibson during his four years as coach of the Bulls.
"I think I should be out there," Boozer said on Monday. "But it's [Thibodeau's] choice. He makes the decisions out there, so I play. I don't coach. He coaches. So he decides that. But honestly, he's been doing that a lot since I've been here, not putting me in in the fourth quarter. Sometimes we win; more times than not, we don't. But that's his choice."
Boozer was pleased to be able to contribute late in Tuesday night's game.
"It was great," he said. "It felt great to be out there, man. Great to be out there, great to hoop with my guys and try to help us win. It was a good win for us. It felt good to be out there, though."
Before the Bulls' surprising win on Tuesday, Thibodeau noted that he wanted his team to focus and play with more energy together on both ends of the floor.
"We have good guys," Thibodeau said. "Sometimes when things aren't going your way there's a tendency when you're trying to get out of a hole to try to do more yourself. And that's what you have to (fight). You have to do more together. Not more yourself. So while the intentions are good, sometimes they're misguided. So if we try to go too much one on one we're not going to have success like that ... we can't be fragmented. We have to be together. Through the good, the bad, and just keep fighting. We have to fight the good fight every night. We can't sideways and that's a big part of this league."
Thibodeau was then asked if he was specifically talking about Boozer.
"I don't work like you guys," he said. "What's next? Something that was said a week ago? That's gone. When I say fragmented I'm talking about our team and the game when it's not going our way -- not staying together. Trying to get out of a hole."
7dEthan Sherwood Strauss