Carlos Boozer Wins NBA Player of the Night After Leading Bulls Past Suns

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistNovember 15, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 14:  Carlos Boozer #5 of the Chicago Bulls lays up a shot against the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on November 14, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Bulls defeated the Suns 112-106 in overtime.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Believe me when I say I'm just as surprised as you are.

Carlos Boozer—who has become a perpetual underachiever bordering on liability—led a battered Chicago Bulls team to a grueling road victory over the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night.

Yes, it was a night that saw Rudy Gay light up the Oklahoma City Thunder for 28 points and James Harden drop 30 points for the Houston Rockets. It was also a night that saw Kemba Walker defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves at the buzzer.

But those performances didn't compare or rather, didn't mean as much as Boozer's eye-opening cause in Phoenix.

Stat Line: 28 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and one steal on 55 percent shooting.

It seemed as if it was going to be an easy night for the Derrick Rose-less Bulls.

Chicago led by as many 18 points and the game appeared out of reach for the Suns early on. But Phoenix fought back, as the Bulls squandered their commanding lead and were forced into overtime.

It was there that Chicago took over, scoring on its first five possessions to build a nine-point lead with less than a minute and a half to go. That proved to be a mountain the Suns weren't prepared to climb.

Despite the dominant performance in overtime, though, make no mistake that the Bulls were in danger of losing this game. They relinquished what should have been an insurmountable lead as they couldn't find a go-to scorer to lead their cause.

Enter Boozer.

The often ineffective power forward set a game-high in points, scoring and rebounding Chicago's way to victory.

This was the performance Boozer needed, the one the Bulls have been waiting for all season. With him staring down the barrel of a summer where he could potentially be amnestied, Boozer had to remind Chicago why it threw $80 million his way more than two years ago.

No, one game isn't going to save the forward's job, but in this one game, he was the dominant force on the glass we once knew. He was also the reliable scorer we came to appreciate with the Utah Jazz.

Most importantly, though, he emerged as a player his teammates could look to in a time of need.

Both Joakim Noah and Luol Deng chipped in 21 points apiece, but the former struggled to get his shot to fall and the latter struggled to get his shot off at all.

Boozer, however, had no such issues. He shot at an extremely high percentage despite jacking up 20 attempts and subsequently, Chicago was plus-11 with him on the floor.

His willingness to log nearly 40 minutes on a 30-year-old body that is anything but durable was also a sign of his determination, something he had failed to show thus far this season.

But not here. On a night when the Bulls were far from their best, Boozer helped carry them to victory because he was at his best.

That being said, while it was an encouraging performance to say the least, we are nowhere near ready to conclude that Boozer is on a pathway back to success. 

However, this single performance was a start.

One that could ultimately spark Boozer's return to prominence.