Going back to his first season in Chicago, Carlos Boozer has often found himself getting benched in fourth quarters. Tom Thibodeau, being a defensive guy, simply has trusted a defensive guy in Taj Gibson to play more down the stretch. And considering Gibson has displayed an improved offensive game this year, it makes even more sense to go with him in fourth quarters unless Boozer really has it going.
Throughout this entire time, Boozer has been a good sport about it, seemingly not having an issue with the benchings. Until now, that is. Take it away, Nick Friedell:
Boozer on 4th Q minutes: "I think I should be out there but it's (Thibs') choice. He makes the decisions out there. I play, he coaches ..."— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) February 3, 2014
Boozer:"He's been doing that a lot since I've been here, not putting me in the 4th qtr. Sometimes we win, but more times than not we don't"— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) February 3, 2014
This is pretty rich, especially coming off an absolutely pathetic performance against the Pelicans. Honestly, I do understand Boozer's frustration. It has to be tough to be a starter, only to barely play during crunch time. But Boozer really should have stopped himself after that first quote. The second bit is just nonsense, and it reeks of a guy who knows his days in Chicago may be numbered.
Because I was curious, I wanted to check out the numbers to compare how Boozer and Gibson have performed in fourth quarters this year. And here's something that will shock you...Gibson grades out much better! In 116 fourth-quarter minutes, Boozer is shooting just 40.0 percent from the field, by far his worst mark of any quarter (not counting overtimes). Meanwhile, Gibson is at 49.0 percent in 451 fourth-quarter minutes.
Going further, the team has simply performed better with Gibson on the court in the fourth quarter this year. Gibson has a net rating of 0.9 in the fourth quarter, while Boozer's is -7.0. Want more? Boozer is generally terrible when the game is close, shooting under 40 percent when the score is within five points. Gibson is at 47.0 percent in those situations this year. Sorry, Carlos.
I was a big fan of the Boozer signing at the time, and I don't fault the Bulls for getting him. Boozer has done some really nice things in Chicago for a couple excellent teams. But he's quite obviously on the decline, and I really have no use for him on the Bulls anymore, especially if he's going to complain about playing time. I know some question whether or not ole Jerry will bite the bullet and swing the amnesty ax this offseason if no trade can be found, but perhaps comments like these in addition to the noticeably declining play will make the decision easier.
All stats from NBA.com's stats page