CHICAGO (AP) -Carlos Boozer is gaining confidence with each game with his new team.
Boozer scored 13 of his 29 points in Chicago's big third quarter and the Bulls beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 99-90 on Monday night.
``We want to be an inside-out team,' Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. ``It's important what Carlos brings to the team. He is such a threat in every in every aspect of transition.'
Boozer got a big free-agent deal from Chicago in the offseason, but missed the team's first 15 games with a broken right hand. He appears to be picking up steam since he returned in Wednesday night's 107-78 loss to Orlando, scoring five, 12 and 25 points in his first three outings before taking down the Thunder.
``Our goal is to improve every game,' Boozer said. ``We don't look too far ahead.'
Luol Deng added 19 points for Chicago (11-8), which outscored the Thunder 29-18 in the pivotal third. Derrick Rose had 11 points and nine assists, but shot 3 for 13 from the field.
Boozer and Joakim Noah had 12 boards apiece as Chicago outrebounded the Thunder 52-39 and enjoyed a 19-11 edge in second-chance points.
``Going into the game, we were very concerned with their offensive rebounding,' Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. ``They present a lot of problems.'
Kevin Durant led the Thunder (14-8) with 29 points, but played only three minutes in the third quarter.
``We weren't playing well and I tried to make adjustments, trying to create some more energy,' Brooks said. ``It was my decision. I don't know if it worked or not, but it was important that we figure out how to play better.'
Nenad Krstic added 18 points in 22 minutes for the Thunder. Russell Westbrook had 15 points and seven assists, shooting 7 for 18.
``Defensively, we played good,' Brooks said. ``It was a tough game. Chicago is good.'
Rose and Westbrook each had their moments in a matchup of two of the up-and-coming point guards in the NBA.
Westbrook heated up midway through the third, scoring seven points in one nice stretch, but Rose and Boozer powered Chicago to an 82-66 lead entering the fourth.
Boozer made a pair of acrobatic shots in the lane after getting fouled. Rose hit a whirling triple-pump layup, then closed the quarter with a banked 30-footer at the buzzer.
``He makes the game easy,' Rose said of Boozer. ``If I pass to him, he's going to find a way to score or get fouled. That's what we need right now.'
After a tight first quarter, both teams put together runs in the second.
Kyle Korver hit back-to-back 3-pointers during a 13-4 Bulls surge, capped by Deng's 3 that put Chicago up by 11 with 5:09 left in the half.
Oklahoma City responded with an 8-0 run of its own, getting a 3-pointer from Thabo Sefolosha after a Korver turnover and a pull-up jumper from Westbrook.
The Bulls improved to 2-2 since Boozer's debut, and the quality of play seems to improve with each outing.
``We're getting better and better every day,' Boozer said. ``It's going to be exciting where we are 20 to 30 games from now.'
Oklahoma City, which leads the NBA in free-throw percentage, went 28 for 31 from the line, but shot just 35 percent from the field.
``They made us work,' Durant said. ``We got to the rim a lot, but just couldn't finish.'
NOTES: The Thunder recalled rookie c Cole Aldrich from the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League. He averaged 7.8 points and 7.2 rebounds in five games for Tulsa. Brooks said he wanted to check on Aldrich's progress. ... The Thunder won the other matchup between the teams this season, beating Chicago 106-95 in Oklahoma City on Oct. 27.
The Associated Press News Service
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