Talk last weekend was that the Utah Jazz would ease Carlos Boozer back into games with five minutes here, five there.
But at Phoenix Monday, he played 13 minutes, scored 10 points and had five rebounds.
Wednesday in the final home preseason game, Boozer made his debut at EnergySolutions Arena for the 2007-08 exhibition slate with 24:50 minutes, scoring a team-high 17 on 8-for-13 shooting and grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds while getting a steal and committing five turnovers and five fouls.
Though he missed most of training camp while attending to his ill son at home in Miami, Boozer has apparently come back to the Jazz in the excellent shape they had expected and none the worse on the court for his ordeal coping with a baby with sickle cell anemia.
Other than his left eye, which has a big red spot from being poked by a finger in the first quarter at Phoenix, Boozer said he feels just the way he should.
"I'm fine. Ready to rock and roll," he said, getting a little weary of reporters walking up and asking him the same things over and over in the locker room.
"Just keep pushing, keep getting (team) chemistry. We've got big dreams and goals for this season, so it's good to be out there and good to be in the mix and a lot of excitement," was Boozer's self-assessment.
"I think Booze looks great," said Jazz point guard Deron Williams, who had great chemistry with Boozer all last season and seems to have it still. "It looks like he's been there all training camp to me."
Forward Mehmet Okur has had his two best shooting nights of the preseason since Boozer returned 4-for-7 at Phoenix and 7-for-10 Wednesday in Utah's 101-93 win over Philadelphia.
It may be coincidence or it may be that Okur's sore "dancer's toe" that's been bothering him since he played for his Turkish National Team in August's EuroBasket tournament is improving, or it may be that Boozer's return just makes it better for everyone.
"He makes our job much easier," Okur said. "He's such a good post-up player, and everybody (has to defend) him, so he create open shots for us.
"Well, you know it's great (for him) to be back. He doing his thing out there. He played great for us. He was active tonight. Good to see him back. We play unselfish basketball out there," Okur continued.
Boozer said he talks with coach Jerry Sloan prior to games to determine what kind of time he will likely see in the preseason games.
"Me and coach, we're always on the same page. We talk before most games, and we say we're going to go back in second quarter with myself and Memo and D-Will and AK (Andrei Kirilenko). Usually we've been playing first and third, and he came to all of us (Wednesday) and told us we were going to be playing first and second and third and a little bit of fourth."
Though Boozer missed most of the training camp, he had little trouble fitting back in.
"No, this offense is very simple if you set screens and move the ball," he said. "Somebody's going to be open every time. Defensively, if you know your rotations, the big men show out, other big men help, that's what teams are about.
"Once you jump back into practice, it comes back to you like that, and I've come and worked hard and as an organization they made it really easy on me, especially with what I went through, and I thank them for their support and the fans for their support."He said his year-old son is doing well, but the family takes things with this potentially deadly disease "one day at a time."
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