Bulls 101, Bobcats 84: Solid Win Tainted By Boozer Injury

The Chicago Bulls hit the road to take on the Charlotte Bobcats tonight. Follow this StoryStream for a preview and game wrap. And for more on the Bulls, visit Blog-a-Bull

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Boozer Injury Update: Sprained Ankle

The Bulls PR staff is reporting that Carlos Boozer sustained a sprained ankle in the 4th quarter of the Bulls victory over the Bobcats. X-rays were negative.

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Bulls Lock Down Bobcats 101-84, Boozer Exits With Leg Injury

On their way to a comfortable victory after a bench-fueled run in the 3rd quarter, the Bulls collectively held their breath as Carlos Boozer limped off the court and into the locker room after being flagrantly fouled by Kwame Brown.

Boozer was hit while going up for a layup, and came down awkwardly with his foot tucked under his left leg. While there are no confirmed reports as of yet, early word is that Boozer suffered a sprained ankle.

Meanwhile, the game began much like Monday's versus the Hornets, with the Bulls unable to muster much energy. However the second half was a completely different story, as Chicago flexed its defensive muscle and pulled away with an array of 3-pointers. Kyle Korver had arguably his game of the year with 20 points in 17 minutes including 4-7 from 3-point land.

With Boozer out early with foul trouble and out late with the aforementioned injury, reserve Taj Gibson (14 points, 6 rebounds, 6-7 FG) stepped up as so many Bulls have done this season. Derrick Rose broke out of his shooting slump in a major way, going 4-6 from downtown for 20 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and most importantly, only 1 turnover.

Also of note, Luol Deng seemed to tweak his leg early in the game and was a relative non-factor throughout the contest. Coach Tom Thibodeau took Deng out in the 4th quarter for what seemed to be precautionary reasons, but as he leads the team in minutes per game and has a history of injuries, expect the Bulls to monitor the situation closely.

Despite what turned into a possibly damaging game for the Bulls playoff hopes, Chicago has the depth to weather minor injuries if that is what Boozer's turns out to be. The team gets a day off before returning home for a three game stretch at the United Center, including Saturday's 20th anniversary celebration of the 1991 NBA champion Bulls. Expect MJ, Pippen, Horace Grant and others to be on hand, in what will be one of the season's great moments for this Bulls team.

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Chicago Bulls Vs. Charlotte Bobcats: Another Day, Another Trap Game

Winners of 11 of 13 games, in sole possession of 2nd place in the Eastern Conference, the Chicago Bulls (44-18) must once again avoid a letdown as they travel to North Carolina to face the struggling Charlotte Bobcats (26-37).

After a grind-it-out win against the depleted New Orleans Hornets on Monday night, the Bulls now face a Bobcats team that has lost five straight contests and may be without their two best players. Former Bull Tyrus Thomas was slated to make his first start in two months after knee surgery until he awoke to find it swollen on Wednesday, while team leader Stephen Jackson is a game-time decision with a strained left hamstring. This after Charlotte began the process of blowing up their roster by dealing their best player, Gerald Wallace, to the Portland Trailblazers at the trade deadline.

Bobcats To Watch For

Point guard D.J. Augustine continues to improve since the arrival of head coach Paul Silas, but it's the recent play of Peoria native Shaun Livingston that has helped to solidify the point guard position for the Bobcats. Boris Diaw also helps distribute the basketball from the point guard position. Having received young players back from the Wallace trade, the Bobcats and their head coach Silas will likely play a much more youthful roster as he and the team look toward the future.

Bulls To Watch For

More than anything, it's important the Bulls come with the energy that they lacked in Monday's home win against the New Orleans Hornets. Against the Bobcats youth and relative lack of depth, look for the Bulls' second unit to extend leads in the second and third quarters. Once again, Chicago's front line of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson will have a huge advantage on the glass. I would not be surprised to see the Bulls rack up 20+ second chance points.

***

As for the Bulls, they travel from the House That Jordan Built to the House That Jordan Owns at an appropriate time. Following tonight's game and Friday's matchup against the Atlanta Hawks, the team will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its 1991 championship on Saturday at the United Center before a game against the Utah Jazz, with Jordan and the rest of the '91 squad expected to be in attendance. Exciting as that may be, it's all the more important that the Bulls stay focused tonight on evening the season series against MJ's Bobcats in Charlotte. Jordan never was one to let bragging rights go unannounced.

The game begins at 6:00 p.m. CST at Time Warner Cable Arena on Comcast Sports Net Plus. If that's not a conflict of interest then I don't know what is.

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