Bulls’ Gibson embraces role

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He struggled a little when Boozer came back, but ultimately got through it, averaging 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds on the season.

“He’s done a great job all season long, and I think he’s gotten a lot healthier,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a tough summer with the injury, and then he had some foot problems early in camp.”

There was little Gibson could do during the offseason.

He could barely walk, let alone work on his game. He was icing his feet four times a day, and nights were particularly painful.

When training camp started, he was trying to catch up physically while adjusting to a new coach and a new role. He had never been a backup, but he and Boozer connected.

“He’s a great teammate. We talk about basketball,” Gibson said. “We talk about life. He teaches me different things. He’s always encouraging. When I’m doing bad, when I’m doing good, he’s always behind me. He’s my guy. He always looks for me on the bench (to give) advice, and he’s my guy.”

Boozer was cheering as loud as anyone on the sideline in Game 1 after that poster dunk on Wade, and he wasn’t the only one amazed. Gibson got so many messages afterward that he shut off his phone.

In Game 2, he had the crowd rocking again _ this time in the fourth quarter, when he scored all his eight points, including a tying dunk before the Heat pulled away for an 85-75 victory.

“He’s been a huge asset for us,” Brewer said. “He’s been an asset for this team the entire year. He’s been playing huge for us, rebounding the ball on both ends of the floor. He’s being more aggressive offensively, which is opening up the floor for everybody else. He’s really being a huge factor that the other team has got to scout and pay attention to. He’s been a sparkplug.”

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