It's admittedly been an up-and-down season for Taj Gibson, whose dealt with a lingering ankle injury, his own inconsistent play and a contract extension right at the deadline, coinciding with the beginning of the campaign. For Carlos Boozer, he's almost been a forgotten man, even on a team without Derrick Rose, unless fans are vilifying him for an off night. Wednesday evening at the Amway Center, however, the power-forward duo took center stage, as both had season-best performances in the absence of starting center Joakim Noah. Each big man was a force on the glass, while Boozer's dominant scoring throughout the contest and Gibson's defensive play and overall high activity level were major reasons the Bulls held on for a 96-94 win over the Magic. "Huge," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau gushed about Gibson, who started in place of Noah—who was sidelined with flu-like symptoms—and scored a season-high 21 points, to go along with 11 rebounds, four blocked shots and three assists in 45 minutes of action, during which he played center for the majority of the night, but also showcased his versatility by defending the likes of perimeter-oriented Hedo Turkoglu. "Played big minutes, battled, played the five all night, just did a great job in all areas: Blocked shots, rebounding, scoring, executing, played a great game. He's been playing very well as of late, too. He's starting to get into a pretty good rhythm." Teammate Kirk Hinrich added: "He was big. He came in and you know Taj, what he can do. He's very good. He just took advantage of the opportunity. When you have guys go down, you have guys step up. When a guy's capable of doing that and Taj is, he's an everyday guy. You know you can count on him to do his job."
Gibson, Boozer rise to the occasion
CSN Chicago | Jan 3