SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Since Carlos Boozer signed with the Chicago Bulls in the summer of 2010, he has started all 248 games in which he has played.
Now he's hoping to finish more.
Reacting to not seeing the fourth quarter in the first two games of this six-game trip, a habit Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau employs often for defensive purposes, Boozer made clear before Monday's 99-70 loss to the Sacramento Kings that he'd like his crunch-time minutes to increase.
"I think I should be out there, but it's (Thibodeau's) choice," Boozer said at Monday's morning shootaround at Sleep Train Arena. "I play. I don't coach. But honestly, he's been doing that a lot since I've been here, not putting me in in the fourth quarter. Sometimes we win, more times than not we don't."
Boozer played in the fourth Monday because Joakim Noah was ejected in the third, ending Noah's double-digit rebounding streak at 18 games. Noah's volatile exit, in which he angrily pointed and cursed at officials, could draw league action.
DeMarcus Cousins returned from missing the Kings' seven-game losing streak with an ankle injury to post 25 points and 16 rebounds.
"It's very frustrating, especially when I've got a great game going," Boozer said of sitting down the stretch. "Obviously as a competitor, you want to help your team win and especially when the game is close, you can do things that can help your team win. And not being out there, all you could do is really cheer them on."
Speaking before the Bulls' lowest-scoring and worst-shooting game this season, Thibodeau said he hadn't seen Boozer's comments and didn't know the context in which they were made.
But Thibodeau, who often closes games with Taj Gibson, provided plenty of his own context.
"I'm asking Taj to sacrifice, not starting, and in some cases Carlos has to sacrifice, not finishing," Thibodeau said. "For us to achieve what we want to achieve, both guys have to play very well for us."
Thibodeau said Boozer still is nursing a recent calf injury that caused him to miss a workout on this trip. He cited Gibson's breakout season, saying he's shooting 49 percent in fourth quarters this season. And he pointed to Gibson's plus-minus rating ranking highest on the team after Luol Deng was traded.
"Sometimes you have to sacrifice what might be best for yourself for what's best for the team," Thibodeau said. "That's what I love about Taj. Taj could be upset he's not starting. He never complains. Whatever you ask him to do, he just goes out there and does it. To me, what he does speaks volumes. He's not talking about it. He's doing it.
"It's my job to get the best out of everyone and to do what's best for the team. So that's what I'll do. I'll always do it. And that's not going to change."
Boozer is averaging 29.8 minutes per game. Gibson is at 28.6.
"Carlos has a lot of pride," Thibodeau said. "He should want to play. But you have to get it done too. You can't play everybody. Joakim has gone to a completely different level. Carlos is going to play some in the fourth. Right now, Taj has the hot hand. So that's the way we're going. That doesn't mean it's going to stay that way.
"I can only base it on performance. So when we're going down the stretch in the fourth quarter it's always going to be the group that gives us the best chance to win."
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